Support House Bill 983 in North Carolina

Saltwater Nation: North Carolina

Saltwater Nation: North Carolina

The Carteret County Marine Fisheries Advisory Board in North Carolina met tonight in Beaufort and adopted a resolution to oppose portions of House Bill 983, titled 2013 Fisheries Economic Development Act. The Bill, which you can read in its entirety here, proposes to designate red drum, sea trout, and striped bass as coastal sport fish, placing them off limits to commercial fishermen. The Carteret County Marine Fisheries Advisory Board, in support of commercial fishing interests made the familiar argument that the Bill would deny non-recreational fishermen the opportunity to purchase the fish for consumption. According to  the advisory board 80% of the reds, trout, and stripers currently harvested are taken by recreational fishermen. The Bill, if passed, would turn over 100% of the harvest rights to sport fishermen. The Argument here, of course, is that the Bill will limit access to these fish to a specific segment of the population and that commercial fishermen provide access to the fish for non-anglers.

Of course, these are difficult matters. On the one hand, the Advisory Board’s argument reduces these fish populations to being understood strictly as “seafood” rather than wildlife, rendering  the argument to be about access to resource rather than about conservation, which it appears HB983 is to be intended. The Advisory Board smartly acknowledged, too, that the North Carolina 1997 Fisheries Reform Act which Governor James B. Hunt signed into law already provides for fisheries management. According to the Advisory Board, HB983 violates the Act which did not suggest that these three species be designated as sport fish. Nonetheless, we should recognize that fifteen-year-old fisheries laws may not account for current conditions as they should. Thus, IF supports HB983 and encourages citizens of the Saltwater Nation residing in North Carolina to contact your General Assembly representatives and tell them that you support HB983 (you can locate contact information for your representative here).

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