County’s leaders and working watermen get an update on fisheries issues
and county commissioners exchanged information with state officials
about a host of fisheries issues at the Dare County Commission for
Working Watermen meeting April 21.
officials attending the meeting included North Carolina Rep. Tim Spear,
Division of Marine Fisheries director Louis Daniel, and Wildlife
Resources Commission director Gordon Myers. Chris Dillon,
projects director for Senator Marc Basnight, also participated.
a report on issues affecting Dare County, state fisheries chief Louis
Daniel said his agency fully supports the South Atlantic Council
minority report objecting to Amendment 17B to the Snapper-Grouper
Fishery Management Plan that was approved by the council majority in
approved by the US Secretary of Commerce, the amendment would close
waters from 240 feet depth seaward to 200 miles offshore to bottom
minority report said the measure is “overly draconian to protect two
species of fish for which there are no valid stock assessments” and
noted that the lack of information could result in a perpetual closure.
amendment closes waters because of two species, speckled hind and
warsaw grouper, that we don’t even catch,” said commercial fisherman
Dewey Hemilright, who fishes out of Wanchese.
described the pending economic impact on North Carolina as
“significant,” pointing to the loss of the blueline tilefish fishery
north of Cape Hatteras and the loss of the tightly-managed snowy
minority report was signed by five council members, including N.C.
appointees Brian Cheuvront and Rita Merritt, and faulted the deadlines
for stock rebuilding set in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Management and
Conservation Act for precluding further analysis.
allowing the federal councils some flexibility in meeting stock
recovery deadlines has been introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J.,
and Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.
the rigid interpretation of Magnuson and without flexibility, the
councils will have to close more fisheries,” Daniel
watermen and officials also talked about how striped bass harvest
quotas in the sound and in the ocean have not been reached by
only about 60 percent of the ocean quota was landed this winter.
about three-quarter to one million dollars left swimming out there,”
He said the
fish stayed in the Exclusive Economic Zone, three to 200 hundred miles
offshore, where harvest is prohibited.
updated the Commission for Working Watermen on ongoing efforts at the
state fisheries agency to provide more opportunities for commercial
efforts include studying ways to open bay scallop harvest grounds
faster, authorizing the use of hook-and-line by commercial fishermen,
and studying the feasibility of flounder traps.
is looking for commercial fishermen to test flounder traps in various
bodies of water.
reported that there is interest in shortening the management plan
approval process by eliminating review by the Joint Legislative
Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture. He said that review
add as much as one year to the implementation process.
Mikey Daniels, state marine fisheries commissioner and Working Watermen
committee member, said the state commission has to move quickly on some
Chris Dillon, Basnight’s aide, said eliminating legislative review
could be a double-edged sword, reducing input and oversight on highly
noted that he would continue to work with the regional Atlantic States
Marine Fisheries Commission on developing alternatives to a 100-pound
weakfish trip limit that would result in discards of weakfish.
state Marine Fisheries Commission voted in March not to comply with the
100-pound limit because of the high number of weakfish that would have
to be thrown back into the sea.
McKeon, president of the North Carolina Fisheries Association, said
Friday that he believed Daniel would propose something like a bycatch
allowance that prevented a targeted fishery but allowed fishermen to
retain a percentage of weakfish relative to the total pounds of all
species caught on a trip.
said that while his organization does not support bycatch fisheries, it
could support this as a temporary measure until a better solution can
be worked out should weakfish become more abundant.