May 16, 2017

Outer Banks Chamber Adopts Resolution
Opposing NC House Bill 867

On May 15, 2017, the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce adopted a resolution to oppose North Carolina House Bill 867, also known as the Coastal Fisheries Conservation and Economic Development Act. The resolution was announced via a press release from Angie Brady-Daniels, Vice President of Events & Communications for the Chamber.

The Chamber of Commerce is not the only local organization to publically speak out against the bill. On May 1, the Dare County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution in opposition to House Bill 867, noting that the commissioners believed strongly that the legislation, if passed, would have a devastating impact on commercial fishermen.

The local group Outer Banks Catch has also shared concerns that the bill would take away watermen’s input into fisheries issues by eliminating the advisory committees required under the 1997 Fisheries Reform Act.  It would also allow the state Marine Fisheries Commission to alone make changes to fisheries management plans.

The bill was filed on April 20 and as of April 21, it’s been referred to the House Committee on Wildlife Resources. If made into law, the bill would change the management of state fisheries, shifting the focus from sustainable fisheries to conservation.

The complete resolution adopted by the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce is detailed below.

Resolution To Oppose North Carolina House Bill 867 Coastal Fisheries Conservation / Economic Development

WHEREAS, the State of North Carolina and the Outer Banks including Dare County, Currituck County and Ocracoke Island, have a long history and lineage of commercial fishing from the Algonquian Indians trading fish to the modern day commercial fishing industry; and

WHEREAS, North Carolina commercial fishermen have made extraordinary gains with science in protecting the environment which they rely on for their wellbeing and way of life, and want to protect the waters and fisheries for the next generation along with generations to come; and

WHEREAS, commercial fishing in North Carolina is in a state of change. There are a number of economic pressures bearing down on industry participants such as competition from imported seafood, closing working waterfronts, and ever increasing government regulations; and

WHEREAS, imported seafood is normally of lower quality, with little regulation and inspection of the product. Imported seafood has been known to have been raised in waters containing human or animal feces, and also injected with carboxymethyl cellulose, gelatin, and glucose; and

WHEREAS, due to recent appointments to the North Carolina  Marine Fisheries Commission, the Commission has refused to listen and adhere to the advice of their own advisory committees including Finfish, Habitat and Water Quality, Shellfish / Crustacean, Northern Region, and Southern Region advisory committees; and

WHEREAS, the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission has gone against the advice of their advisory committees, and are currently trying to establish severe restrictions on the commercial fishing industry without scientific data or an economic impact study on which to base their restrictions.  These restrictions go against the current Management Plan which requires future regulations be based on science and the data gathered; and

WHEREAS, House Bill 867 seeks to rewrite the North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act of 1997, which was passed after months of public scrutiny.  House Bill 867 would reform the North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act of 1997 without such vetting from the public; and

WHEREAS, House Bill 867 would eliminate the advisory committees which have a set amount of commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen, and scientists to advise the Commission and replace them with one, 20 member advisory committee appointed by the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission without any designation as to member’s qualification or status in the industry; and

WHEREAS, House Bill 867 also offers a commercial fishing license buyback plan which also gives insight to the implied destruction of a way of life for so many North Carolina residents that would cause a harmful impact to the state’s economy.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce, representing approximately 1,050 business and organizations along coastal NE North Carolina, hereby opposes North Carolina House Bill 867 in its entirety and respectfully requests that North Carolina  Legislators reject this legislation and support the State of North Carolina's working watermen in order to sustain a way of life for many future generations and preserve a vital economic engine for North Carolina.                           


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