coastal counties have joined with commercial fishermen in litigation
against the state of North Carolina over last year’s decision by the
Marine Fisheries Commission to adopt new regulations on the southern
flounder fishery by using the “supplement” process.
Stevenson Weeks, an attorney with Wheatly, Wheatly, Weeks, Lupton &
Massie of Beaufort and Todd Roessler attorney with Kilpatrick, Townsend
& Stockton of Raleigh, are representing the plaintiffs. The
complaint was filed Friday, Sept. 23, in Carteret County Superior
The plaintiffs include the North Carolina Fisheries Association, Inc.;
Carteret County Fisherman’s Association, Inc., and Dare, Carteret, and
Defendants served with the complaint are the Secretary of the
Department of Environmental Quality, Director of the Division of Marine
Fisheries, and all members of the Marine Fisheries Commission.
According to the plaintiffs, the practical effect of the litigation is
to stop the closure of the recreational and commercial southern
flounder fisheries, scheduled to take effect this fall.
Brent Fulcher, board chairman of the North Carolina Fisheries
Association, said, “Filing a lawsuit is the last resort for us. We
testified many times last year before the Marine Fisheries Commission
that using the supplement is the wrong approach and should be managed
by a full-blown amendment that allows full public participation. Our
advice was totally ignored.”
“In my 29 years of involvement with these fisheries issues, this is
only the second time that we filed litigation against the Division of
Marine Fisheries”, said Jerry Schill, president of the Fisheries
Association, a trade group representing commercial fishermen.
“Fishermen must have confidence in the process for management to be
successful, but with the commission and the division ignoring the law
and even their own guidelines, we have no other option left.”
The 30-page complaint alleges the management measures made by the
defendants were arbitrary and based on inadequate scientific data using
an abbreviated regulatory process and did so in violation of the North
Carolina Open Meetings Laws.
Click here to read the complaint.