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Move to curtail NC shrimping faces long road

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    Posted: 27 April 2017 at 7:25pm
Author Credits--> By Maureen Donald of National Fisherman

Industry promises heavy opposition to petition that would cut time on the water

The move to limit shrimping in North Carolina waters is slowly making its way through the fishery management process despite several groups’ contending the science was flawed and the method used to push the petition forward side-stepped the usual rule-making process.

“This should never have been approved,” said Sandy Semans Ross, executive director of Outer Banks Catch. “Twelve of the 16 scientists who commented on the petition said it was not backed up by data, and that it should not move forward.”

The petition, pushed by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, asks the state to designate waters in the sounds and 3 miles into the ocean as primary nursery areas for various species starting Jan. 1, 2018, cutting the number of days shrimp-ing is allowed, the amount of time nets can be in the water and gear that can be used.

Despite the opposition, the petition is going forward — at a snail’s pace. The lengthy, multistep process will likely take more than a year to complete beginning with the development of a fiscal note, which is basically the price tag of the regulations including the cost to enforce and what it will cost those directly affected.

The projected economic effect on fishermen, dealers and consumers is expected to exceed $1 million, triggering the law that requires the creation of at least two options to the proposed rules — a study funded with state tax dollars. The options will be published to the State Register, opening the door for public comment and hearings.

The whole process will likely take several months before the final proposal is submitted to the state’s Rules Review Commission when a 24-hour window would open for written comments to be submitted. If 10 letters oppose the regulations, then the matter would be forwarded to the N.C. General Assembly. It is expected to be May 2018 at the earliest before the final rules proposal would be ready for consideration.

Related Article....(FEB 2017)
Proposal seeking shrimp control moves forward in NC
North Carolina’s shrimp industry could face sweeping changes in 2018 following a controversial move to allow a 100-page petition filed by the state Wildlife Federation and the Southern Environmental Law Center to move forward. The 5-3 decision handed down by the Marine Fisheries Commission on Feb. 16 has the entire commercial fishing community braced for what could be a crippling blow to the industry.

The petition, now headed into the rule-making process, calls for all state coastal waters not already designated as nursery areas to be designated as special secondary nursery areas, in which shrimp and crab trawling would be prohibited except during open shrimp season. If approved, these regulations would shorten the number of days shrimp trawlers can fish, how much they can fish and where they can trawl in state waters.

The fact that North Carolina is the only state on the East Coast that still allows shrimp trawling in sounds and rivers is the battle cry of proponents of the proposal. But fishermen and environmentalists say management is doing just fine as is.

“The fact is, this state’s marine fisheries division is doing an outstanding job managing the fishery,” said Melvin Shepard, former president of the board of the North Carolina Coastal Federation. “That’s why we are still shrimping and doing very well at it.”

Jerry Schill, president of the North Carolina Fisheries Association, is disappointed but far from shocked.

“When the previous governor reappoints a former Coastal Conservation Association board member and a bully who has clearly violated our state’s open meetings laws, as well as appointed two CCA sympathizers to at-large seats, you know the deck is stacked,” says Schill. “That said, I remained optimistic because of the overwhelming [84 percent] vote of the five advisory boards to deny the petition in January.”

For one commercial fisherman attending the meeting, this latest move could have devastating effects.

“If these rules are implemented it will affect their ability to make a living shrimping,” said Albemarle fisherman Terry Pratt . “It will affect 9.5 million people’s ability to have North Carolina… shrimp and other seafood.”

Marine Fisheries Commission member Allison Willis voted against the petition going forward and said she thinks the proposed regulations in the petition “went too far.”

“I think this is such a waste of the state’s resources,” she added. “This is extremely discouraging to me.”

According to Schill, the petition represents a trend he says raises major concerns for the future. “Bottom line? Science be damned and full steam ahead for special interest agendas that would decimate coastal North Carolina communities,” he said. “What the commission did was cause for continued worry for thousands of families and a huge waste of taxpayer resources.”

There are also concerns about how the proposed rules would interact with existing rules. Fisheries staffer Trish Murphy said the proposed regulations would affect not just shrimp trawling, but also other forms of trawling, such as flynet, flounder and crab trawling.

Edited by ONEARMEDBANDIT - 27 April 2017 at 7:27pm
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