Fall should mean fishing reports, tourism dollars and abundant fresh seafood. Instead, our prized saltwater fish species are in decline. Our state’s management process is failing everyone: recreational anglers, commercial fishermen and most of all the public.
North Carolina is “different.” Different is not necessarily better. Our state allows the excessive use of destructive, unsustainable commercial fishing methods that are carefully restricted or disallowed in all other Southern states.
Among the worst of these gears are large mesh gill nets and industrial shrimp trawls. These practices jeopardize our sustainable commercial fisheries and put our $1.6 billion recreational fishery at risk. We can’t have fishermen without the fish.
For decades we have watched commercial fishing special interests and a few elected officials twist the arms of our state fishery agency and Marine Fisheries Commission to delay and prevent much needed management.
The current political fight over Southern flounder is just the most recent and disheartening example.
In November, the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission has an opportunity to begin rebuilding our Southern flounder fishery and correct decades of failed management. The people of North Carolina, the owners of our valuable natural resources, deserve better.
President, North Carolina Guides Association