Fishermen told state Rep. Tim Spear that spiny dogfish management
issues are symptomatic of broader problems in North Carolina fisheries,
during the July 29 meeting of the Dare County Commission for Working
Dewey Hemilright, a Kitty Hawk resident who fishes out of Wanchese and
serves on the Commission for Working Watermen (CWW), said state
fisheries officials acknowledge that an East Coast dogfish management
plan has short-changed the state’s commercial fishing industry
“But what we aren’t hearing from the state is, ‘Boys,
we have to get you back fishing,’ “ Hemilright told Spear.
Several watermen said they have been disappointed also with the
state’s level of involvement in snowy grouper and coastal shark
management issues that, they said, penalized North Carolina fishermen.
CWW member Kelly Schoolcraft said North Carolina doesn’t support
its fishing industry the way states like Massachusetts and Alaska
“I need to know what the history has been, where the disconnect
has been, and then be prepared to change things,” said Spear.
Commission members noted that state fisheries managers, representatives
on federal fisheries boards, and elected officials too often
don’t do enough to protect the interests of the state’s
“It is sort of a total breakdown,” said CWW chairman and Dare County commissioner Mike Johnson.
Spear said he would arrange a meeting with Louis Daniel, director of
the state Division of Marine Fisheries, Dare County commissioners, and
“We need to see what we can do from this point forward to change the mindset you’ve described,” Spear said.
Still, Spear cautioned that resolution of many of the issues identified by the CWW rest squarely with the governor.
“A lot depends on how much of an advocate the governor and the people he appoints are for your industry,” he said.
CWW member Mikey Daniels noted that Governor Mike Easley has not shown
interest in the issues important to the commercial fishing industry, a
situation Daniels doesn’t expect to change as Easley’s term
draws to a close.
“We’re frustrated. It’s like we’re poison,” Daniels said.
Daniels and other CWW members agreed that the lack of support shown by
the state raises doubts over the future of the commercial fishing
“Yes, I support your efforts, and, yes, we need the commercial
fishing industry, and I’m not just saying that,” responded
He added that he has introduced or supported legislation giving the
commercial and charter-boat industries more representation on state
boards, providing property tax relief to waterfront land used by
commercial fishermen, and authorizing funds to protect public
Spear said a strong coastal coalition in the General Assembly could effectively address legislative and policy issues.
CWW chairman Mike Johnson reported that the commission resolution
requesting a dedicated 1.3 million pound spiny dogfish quota for North
Carolina was approved by the Dare County Board of Commissioners and had
been sent to other coastal boards for consideration.