10 Feb ARCHIVE | February, 2011
Marine Fisheries Commission sanctions striped bass slaughter
Anglers set to seek relief in General Assembly
In an appalling disregard for the indiscriminate killing of striped bass by the commercial trawl net fishermen, the North Carolina Marine fisheries Commission (NCMFC) voted to continue these wasteful practices. Following three tragic incidents where a massive number of ocean striped bass were killed in the North Carolina trawler fishery, recreational fishermen sent thousands of emails, phone calls and letters to the NC Division of Marine Fisheries and the NC Marine Fisheries Commission protesting the recent waste in this fishery. In response to these events and public outcry, the issue was placed on the MFC agenda for the Feb. 11, 2011 meeting.
At the MFC public comment sessions, a large turnout by CCA members, recreational fishermen and even some commercial fishermen resulted in a barrage of comments condemning the waste. Essentially all recreational comments requested permanently closing the striped bass trawler fishery and to replace it with a hook and line commercial fishery. During the meeting Dr. Daniel tried to minimize the extent of the dead fish stating that only a few hundred fish were killed. Some recreational speakers at the meeting provided documentation of the numbers of fish and supplied the names of charter boat captains that would confirm their observations.
Despite not knowing the type of trawl net used, the size of the net, the mesh size or the tow lengths, the NCMFC voted to continue status quo and to reopen the trawler fishery with a 2000 lb fish daily limit until the remaining 60,000 lb trawler quota is reached. Fishing will only be allowed on weekdays to reduce interactions (documentation of waste?) with recreational fishermen. These are essentially the exact same rules that lead to the most recent, wasteful trawler debacle that killed even more stripers. One can only conclude that the NCMFC continues to be dominated by those whose care little for their obligation to protect the resource.
The waste was universally condemned during the public comment session, but the commercially dominated MFC voted 6-2 to allow the practice to continue. Commissioners Anna Beckwith and Mac Currin were the dissenting votes and suggested pursuing to develop a hook and line commercial fishery for striped bass in North Carolina such as those that are very successful in so many other states. Unfortunately for anglers and the state?s marine resources, Currin leaves the MFC in June.
This action was not unexpected. The MFC has routinely ignored the public in order to manage the public?s resources in a manner that benefits only a small segment of commercial entities. This utter disregard will continue until the make-up of the MFC better represents the citizens of North Carolina, which is a goal of CCA North Carolina. In the meantime, these fish are at the mercy of a commission that is dedicated to allowing commercial fishing to operate essentially unchecked.
One way you can help is to be at CCA Day on February 17th to speak with Legislators about how the MFC continues to promote waste in our fisheries. Join us at 9:00 am in the Legislative Auditorium on the 3rd floor.
CCA North Carolina Seeks End to Trawling
Striped bass kills highlight need to end destructive fishing practices
PINE KNOLLS SHORES, NC – In response to a rash of massive striped bass kills along the coast, CCA North Carolina will request the NC Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) to eliminate trawling of any kind as a permissible fishing gear for striped bass. The incidents, photographed and videotaped by recreational anglers in the area, were the result of commercial trawling operations in state waters and have prompted outrage up and down the East Coast. CCA North Carolina will request decisive action at the MFC meeting in Pine Knolls, Feb. 10-11.
“The MFC has an obligation to responsibly manage these resources,” said Jay Dail, Chairman of the CCA NC. “Allowing a fishery to dump thousands of dead stripers over the side as a regular course of doing business is not responsible management. At the very least, the Commission should immediately outlaw the use of indiscriminate, highly destructive trawls in state waters in favor of more selective gear.”
In response to the first of the striped bass kills on Jan. 21, the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries implemented regulatory changes to address discards of striped bass in the commercial trawl fishery. The Division replaced the previous 50-fish-per-day commercial trip limit with a 2,000-pound-per-day trip limit. The action was intended to allow the commercial industry to keep fishing while avoiding regulatory discards. The plan failed as another fish kill event, complete with trails of dead, floating bass, were again witnessed and recorded.
CCA North Carolina will request the MFC to establish a commercial hook-and-line only fishery for striped bass, a far more selective gear that will prevent the tragic waste of striped bass common to trawls.
Sadly, the NC Fisheries Association’s response to the recent fish kills wasn’t about the unwanted loss of striped bass, but one of location, “The federal government obstinately refuses to allow an increase on commercial quota or any percentage rollover, and the EEZ is still closed. These boats wouldn’t be anywhere near these recreational boats who were taking all the videos if they didn’t have to stay within three miles.” stated its director.
“This isn’t a question of ‘getting away with it.’ It’s about a flagrant waste of a public resource. On top of that, the economic hit of denying those fish to recreational anglers should be a significant concern to the state,” said Jim Hardin, President of CCA NC. In 2000, a study by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science indicated Virginia stood to generate about $181 million if the state allocated 100 percent of the striped bass to the recreational sector. Allocating 100 percent of that state?s stripers to the commercial industry would generate about $24 million. “Allowing this kind of destructive fishing practice to continue off our coast does not make sense at any level. It has to stop and we expect the MFC to take appropriate, effective action.”