At the May meeting of the NC Marine Fisheries Commission, the true political bias favoring the Commercial Fishing Sector and its interests were on full display as usual. When Commissioner Rob Bizzell made a motion to raise the minimum size for a legal Speckled Trout from 12 inches to 15 inches, there was not even a "second" to the motion! Not even a second to open the idea for debate or a vote!
Then a motion was made to raise that same size limit to 14 inches and there was a second, and it did not pass but was voted on to "discuss" among AC members and for them to get back to the commission with their suggestions. Now here we finally see the true colors of our MFC. The commercial seats know that if recreational anglers are willing to raise the size limit on themselves, and to also decrease the daily limit from 10 to 6 on themselves, then the commercial fishermen will be required to participate in some form to decrease the fishing pressure, and they want nothing to do with that!
Commissioner Mann clarified that a no-harvest provision for recreational fishing in Primary Nursery Areas would still allow a catch and release fishery. Commissioner Styron said if the MFC was going to allow catch and release fishing in the closed Primary Nursery Areas that is favoring one segment of the fishery over the other. Commissioner Beresoff said it would be hard to enforce, and he would prefer to make primary nursery areas sanctuaries. If these conflicts are that bad, close the areas to all fishermen.
Motion by Rob Bizzell to direct the regional advisory committees and the Finfish Advisory Committee to consider:
*No commercial or recreational harvest of spotted seatrout in Primary Nursery Areas from the New River and its tributaries northward;
*Harvest in Primary Nursery Areas by gill nets Monday – Thursday only, by recreational fishermen Friday – Sunday only, and no commercial or recreational harvest from Nov. 1 – March 1 annually;
*100 percent attendance of all gill nets in the Neuse, Newport, White Oak and New rivers and their tributaries;
*Limiting the amount of gill net used by individuals and/or geographic areas;
*Addressing conflicts in specific areas identified by the DMF based on reports; and any combination of the above.
Seconded by Rusty Russ – motion fails, two in favor and five opposed.
As the NC Marine Fisheries Commission continues to languish in its intentional indecisiveness and political posturing, another argument arises that certainly needs serious consideration. Why continue pandering to a system that obviously is not working and is politically designed for paralysis by analysis? Let's do away with the MFC and move the DMF to where it should be, and that is under the direction of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. Joint enforcement? Think of the millions of dollars that would be saved, and possibly, just possibly, our fisheries biologists and the management folks at the DMF could manage our fisheries based on true science, and politics would have to become the last consideration in all management decisions! That's the way it ought to be!