Current News / Issues Impacting the North Carolina Shrimp Industry
The 2013 Fisheries Economic Development Act
The North Carolina seafood industry its advocates have been voicing opposition to the 2013 Fisheries Economic Development Act, also known as House Bill 983. It would designate red drum, spotted sea trout and estuarine striped bass as coastal game fish, allocating these fish solely to recreational fishermen. Hence, the act would prohibit commercial fishermen from harvesting these fish, and as a result, consumers would be unable to purchase these species in retail stores or restaurants. The Carteret Catch board crafted a resolution opposing House Bill 983 and sent it to the leaders of the House and Senate (Carteret Catch Resolution).
In its initial review of House Bill 983, the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries – the agency responsible for managing the state’s marine fisheries resources – noted that designating game fish status for any coastal species is a departure from the North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act. In part, the act requires the division to develop fishery management plans that include conservation measures that provide the greatest overall benefit to the State, particularly with regard to food production, recreational opportunities, and the protection of the marine environment (http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/fishery-management-plans-details). Declaring game fish status for any coastal species, the division says, gives preference to recreational fishermen over commercial fishermen to access what is essentially a public resource. The division recommended managing “the state’s resources for the benefit of all user groups as specified in the Fisheries Reform Act.” (N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Analysis)