February 9, 2010

Outer Banks fishermen are heading to Washington, D.C.


Even if the day breaks plum perfect and the fish are running, don’t expect to find many Outer Banks fishermen heading out to sea on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Commercial and recreational fishermen from Dare County are planning to take part in a rally in Washington, D.C., that day calling for reform of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the federal law that sets the framework for fishing regulations developed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and its regional councils.

Etheridge Seafood in Wanchese is organizing bus trips to the rally.  Buses will depart from Avon Seafood in Avon and from Sugar Creek Restaurant on the Manteo-Nags Head Causeway.

Commercial and recreational fishermen, affiliated fishing, seafood, and tourism businesses, and community leaders from every coastal state will gather on the steps of the Capitol from noon to 3 p.m. to protest what they describe as the unforgiving collapse of coastal culture and economies taking place under U.S. fisheries policy.

 U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and George LeMieux, R-Fla., will participate in the rally, and organizers said they expect other elected officials to confirm participation soon.
Many fishermen also are arranging to meet with their congressional delegations that day.

Willie Etheridge at Etheridge Seafood said he anticipates a strong turn-out of Dare County residents.  

“This isn’t the concern of commercial fishermen alone,” he said.

He said legislation reauthorizing the Magnuson Act has resulted in such rigid time frames for rebuilding fish stocks and for ending overfishing that fishermen and their communities are dealt devastating economic blows.

The original intent of Magnuson has been lost through the years as environmental groups have pressed for conservation measures that trump concern over negative economic impacts in nearly all situations, according to Etheridge.

“NMFS started hammering the commercial fishing industry and then moved on to the charter-boat industry, but it’s become clear that they’ve set their sights on recreational fishermen too,” he said.

The cost of the bus trip from Dare County to the rally is $45.  To reserve seats on buses leaving Dare County, call Etheridge Seafood at 252-473-5272. 

For information on buses leaving New Bern, call the North Carolina Fisheries Association at 252-633-2288.

Information on the rally, Magnuson Act, and other fisheries issues are posted daily at www.ahabsjournal.typepad.com

 Comments are always welcomed!

     Subject :

     Name :  (required)

     Email :  (required, will not be published)

     City :   (required)    State :   (required)

     Your Comments:

May be posted on the Letters to the Editor page at the discretion of the editor.