Regarding the March 30 Point of View “N.C. fisheries need funds, enforcement”: The Division of Marine Fisheries Marine Patrol – with responsibility for fisheries enforcement and safety in a 20-county coastal area with over 1 million stakeholders (fishermen) – has fewer enforcement officers than N.C. State University, with responsibility for a few hundred acres in Raleigh and 30,000 students.
The Marine Patrol has only a few more officers (56) than the State Capitol police (40) and less than a 10th the number of the Raleigh Police Department (900 to 1,000), which is responsible for less than 1 million residents. All of these entities have similar responsibilities, but the MP has less authority.
Having been involved in marine fisheries management as a member of the Joint Legislative Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture and chairman of the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission, I can confirm that the issue of a Joint Enforcement Agreement has been around since the mid-1990s. This is a federal program that works, and North Carolina is the only state that does not have such an arrangement with the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The governor and secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources should ask the DMF to implement this program. DMF has been paying for it for two years without the benefits of much-needed enforcement.