a meeting in New Bern yesterday, all five of the N.C. Marine Fisheries
Commission advisory panels voted to recommend that the MFC deny a
petition from the N.C. Wildlife Foundation to strengthen shrimp trawl
However, the fight to preserve shrimp trawling in North Carolina sounds and ocean waters is not over yet.
The petition from the environmental group would so restrict trawlers in
the sounds and the ocean out three miles that commercial fishermen
would lose massive amounts of income and consumers would have only
limited access to North Carolina wild-caught shrimp.
According to a news update from North Carolina Fisheries Association
commercial fishing boats filled the docks outside the New Bern
Convention Center and about 1,000 watermen and their families showed up
to protest the restrictive proposals for rulemaking.
Commissioner Steve House represented Dare County at the meeting and planned to speak.
First, representatives of the N.C. Wildlife Foundation and their
attorneys from the Southern Environmental Law Center spoke for about 45
minutes and answered questions, according to the NCFA release.
Public comment began about 3:30 and didn't end until about 7 p.m. when
it was cut off because of time limitations, said the NCFA release.
Speakers were limited to three minutes, but there is a process where
one can request additional time. Certain criteria are required to do
so. According to NCFA, it was the only group that asked, so executive
director Jerry Schill, Jess Hawkins and Connell Purvis were given
15 minutes to provide their reasoning for opposition. Hawkins and
Connell are both former employees of the division and are both
biologists, with Connell serving as the Director of Marine Fisheries in
the late '70s and early '80s.
The last action was for the five advisory panels to discuss and vote on
whether to advise the MFC to approve or deny the petition for
The votes were:
- Northern: 9 to 1 to deny the petition
- Shellfish/Crustacean : 8 to 1 to deny the petition
- Finfish: 7 to 1 to deny the petition
- Southern: 6 to 0 with 1 abstention to deny the petition
- Habitat/Water Quality: 7 to 1 with 1 abstention to deny the petition
The Commission will vote on the petition next month at its quarterly
business meeting on Feb. 15-16 at the Hilton Riverside in Wilmington.