A petition to amend rules relating to commercial fishing in state waters in North Carolina was submitted to the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission on November 2, 2016 by The North Carolina Wildlife Federation.  The North Carolina Wildlife Federation’s petition seeks restrictions on shrimp trawling that would limit the time allowed for trawling and the type of gear that could be used while shrimp trawling.

In response to The North Carolina Wildlife Federation’s petition, the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission has scheduled a public hearing to receive input regarding the petition and to explore questions regarding the implementation of the petition’s recommendations.  The public hearing will be held beginning at 12:30 pm on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 in New Bern, North Carolina at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center, 203 South Front Street, New Bern, NC.

A counter-petition opposing The North Carolina Wildlife Federation’s recommendations located on Change.org has already obtained the support of over 3,000 individuals.  The petition, “Keep NC seafood (especially SHRIMP) on our Tables,” states:

SAVE LOCAL SEAFOOD!

Local businesses, fishing families and coastal communities depend on catches from trawlers – namely shrimp – as a source of economic commerce, as well as locally-grown, organic protein.

More than 90 percent of all shrimp consumed in the country is imported. Importing this highly prized commodity not only puts Americans out of jobs, it jeopardizes our health by marketing a poorly inspected product.

By designating the state’s inland waters, as well as ocean waters three miles out as permanent secondary nursery areas, the fishery for trawlers – which harvest blue crab, flounder and mainly shrimp – would be highly compromised. As a result, North Carolina would [lose] a considerable amount of income to foreign competition and consumers across the country would [lose] access to this bountiful and highly prized resource. In addition, the rules would surely lead to the demise of a historic profession that has spanned generations of coastal citizens.

The petition asks the commission to designate all coastal fishing waters (including the ocean out to three miles) not otherwise designated as nursery areas as special secondary nursery areas; establish clear criteria for the opening of shrimp season; and define the type of gear and how and when gear may be used in special secondary nursery areas during shrimp season.

Please consider consumers and our coastal economy when imposing strict rules in our state’s waters. Keep our fishermen working and keep seafood on our tables. Do not designate North Carolina waters as permanent secondary nursery areas.

Members of the public may also comment on The North Carolina Wildlife Federation’s petition in writing (until January 20th) through an e-mail to NCWFPetition@ncdenr.gov or by mail to NCWF Petition, Marine Fisheries Commission Office, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, NC 28557.

The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission’s December 14, 2016 press release for the meeting is as follows:

Advisory committees to meet, accept public comment on petition impacting shrimp trawling

MOREHEAD CITY — Five advisory committees to the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission will meet jointly next month to discuss and take public comment on a petition for rulemaking calling for habitat protections that, if adopted, would impact shrimp trawl fishing in most North Carolina waters.

The meeting will begin at 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 17 at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center, 203 South Front St., New Bern. The Finfish, Shellfish/Crustacean, Habitat and Water Quality, Northern Regional and Southern Regional advisory committees will be asked to review and comment on the petition for rulemaking submitted Nov. 2 by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation.

To accommodate as many speakers as possible, those who wish to give public comment at the meeting will be limited to three minutes per person.

Members of the public also may comment on the petition in writing to NCWFPetition@ncdenr.gov or to:

NCWF Petition
Marine Fisheries Commission Office
N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries
PO Box 769
Morehead City, N.C. 28557

Written comments will be accepted from Dec. 20 until 5 p.m. Jan. 20.

The petition asks the commission to designate all coastal fishing waters (including the ocean out to three miles) not otherwise designated as nursery areas as special secondary nursery areas; establish clear criteria for the opening of shrimp season; and define the type of gear and how and when gear may be used in special secondary nursery areas during shrimp season.

Specific requests of the petition include:

The commission will discuss and vote on the petition for rulemaking at its February business meeting.

Find the Change.org petition “Keep NC seafood (especially SHRIMP) on our Tables” here:  https://www.change.org/p/north-carolina-marine-fisheries-commission-keep-nc-seafood-especially-shrimp-on-our-tables

Read the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission’s December 14, 2016 press release regarding the hearing here:  http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/nr-89-2016-public-comment?p_p_id=56_INSTANCE_YqF5&p_p_lifecycle=0&p_p_state=exclusive&p_p_mode=view&p_p_col_id=column-2&p_p_col_count=2&_56_INSTANCE_YqF5_struts_action=%2Fjournal_content%2Fview&_56_INSTANCE_YqF5_groupId=38337&_56_INSTANCE_YqF5_articleId=29989678&_56_INSTANCE_YqF5_viewMode=print

Read The North Carolina Wildlife Federation’s November 2, 2016 Petition here:  http://portal.ncdenr.org/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=a8c99680-f624-486c-9f7b-d4319c2cf853&groupId=38337

 

I encourage everyone who cares about American jobs and desires to have fresh local shrimp to sign the petition to keep North Carolina shrimp fishermen working.

John Williams