Wednesday, March 31, 2010

NC Marine Fisheries Commission Votes to Snub ASMFC, Continue Slaughter of Collapsed Gray Trout Fishery for the Love of Money!

Once again our NC Marine resources suffer at the hands of our commercially run Marine Fisheries Commission. Under the guise of caring about wasted fish, the commission voted to "not comply" with the Atlantic States Fisheries Commission and reduce commercial harvest of Gray Trout to 100 pounds per day per vessel, and one fish per day for recreational fishermen.

The ASMFC could request the US Secretary of Commerce to step in and shut the Gray Trout fishery in NC completely down!

This is exactly what needs to happen to protect this beautiful sportfish! From 1978 to 1990, the commercial fishing fleet here in NC sold over 160 Million pounds of Gray Trout at an average of 32 cents per pound! Now, with no limits whatsoever, they have only harvested less than 200 thousand pounds in the last few years.

Fisheries biologist say the Gray Trout stocks are at an all time low, and what do our NC commercial fishermen want to do? They demand that they be allowed to go catch what is left of them! Even when all the states on the Atlantic Coast voted to do otherwise!

Not only can they make such horrific demands, since they are the "foxes guarding the hen house," they can make their own rules to play by and do as they wish with our fisheries!

This egregious display of blatant disregard for our marine resources gives not only North Carolinians reason for pause, but for our neighboring states on the Atlantic Coast as well.

If there were ever any doubts about the true nature and intent of our Marine Fisheries Commission, they have now all been erased!

It is high time that the current system of marine resource management be overturned and overhauled! Maybe the Feds will step in and help us get it done!

The CFRG sent the following email to every member of the ASMFC on March 26, 2010....

Dear ASMFC Member,

Once again, North Carolina’s Marine Fisheries Commission puts money and profit at a higher priority than the health of a depleted Weakfish fishery. In spite of the intense studies and debate that the ASMFC has engaged in on behalf of Weakfish, NC MFC has decided that they know better and will just thumb their noses at sound, biological fisheries management.

Is it any wonder? Does this really surprise any of you who understand that North Carolina Marine Fisheries are run by commercial fishermen that only understand the price of a fish sold, and not the value of a fish preserved? Many of us here in NC are growing weary of the constant battle to achieve sound fisheries management, and now we must turn to you for help!

Will you help us? Will you do what is right for the Weakfish before it is too late?

Please use the power that is given to you and demand that NC adhere to the Weakfish regulations that the ASMFC supports. If they refuse, please request that The Secretary of Commerce SHUT DOWN completely the NC Commercial and recreational Weakfish fishery until the stocks recover.

Concerned North Carolinians need you to step up and do the right thing, in light of the shameful actions of a politically run NC Marine Fisheries Commission!

Please let us know your feelings on this subject, and thank you for your service on behalf of our Atlantic States Fisheries!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Atlantic Sturgeon; Another Canary in the Coal Mine? Read Craig Holt's Opinion From NC Sportsman Magazine

Will Our Fisheries Ever be Managed For Fish?
By Craig Holt

Three decisions involving saltwater fisheries occurred during February. One was fairly-well publicized; two flew under the radar.

Each reveal the mindset of fisheries management in North Carolina.

Anglers may know about a Feb. 18 meeting in New Bern, when the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission held a public hearing regarding a proposal by Dr. Louis Daniel, director of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries. Under pressure from the National Marine Fisheries Service to reduce accidental gill netting of sea turtles (and from an impending lawsuit by a turtle-protection group), Daniel offered a temporary May 15-Dec. 15 closure of sections of Pamlico, Core and Back sounds and the Cape Fear River to large-mesh gill nets.

Before an audience of mostly net fishermen, the MFC dropped Daniel’s idea and voted for a proposal tossed out by a commercial fish dealer that would allow gill-net use four days a week.

Earlier in the month, Daniel and N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission executive director Gordon Myers sent letters to NMFS Southeast region director Roy Crabtree. He wanted to know if the two agencies thought Atlantic sturgeon should be listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

They responded that Atlantic sturgeon shouldn’t have ESA protection and asked for further studies, even though a ban on sturgeon harvests has existed since 1991. Moreover, their responses to Crabtree contained contradictory statements:

“The DMF believes that there is evidence that management measures enacted by the state of North Carolina and the ASMFC are resulting in positive population trends.” (Daniel).

“Recent information from Albemarle and Pamlico sounds suggests that the Carolina DPS (distinct population segments) of Atlantic sturgeon has shown little improvement in size and age distribution since 1991.” (Myers).

We don’t know which conclusion is stranger.

DMF says sturgeon numbers are growing while WRC sees no improvement. Yet both agencies’ leaders don’t want ESA listing for a fish that can’t be caught legally because there are so few of them.

A source also has told us WRC rejected its own staff report that sturgeons should be listed.

After the Feb. 18 MFC vote in New Bern and the letters of Daniel and Myers to NMFS, one conclusion seems inevitable — gill-net use will continue in N.C. saltwater until it’s halted by outside forces.

Of course, commercial fishermen don’t deliberately target sea turtles or sturgeons, but sometimes their nets injure or kill these endangered or threatened species.

The major problem with nets in N.C. waters is timing — the DMF allows them to be set in spring to intercept fish headed for shallow water to spawn (killing fish before they can reproduce isn’t a great idea). Post-spawn-only gill netting could work (and result in more fish), but, as Feb. 18, proved, netters and the state agencies that regulate them won’t accept restrictions.

However, that may prove a dangerous path to follow.

Clearly, economic hardships are squeezing netters. But by refusing any restrictions or adjustments while demanding state agencies be similarly unbending, their lack of compromise eventually may force removal of all nets from N.C. waters.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sea Turtles; "The Canary in the Coal Mine"

In the "old days" coal miners would carry a "Canary" into the mines with them in a cage. If the canary stopped singing, the miners would know that the bird had perished from the invisible, odorless, lethal, Methane gas, and would evacuate the mine!

The NC Sea Turtles are the "Canary in the Coal Mine" for NC marine fisheries!!!

You need to look no further than the Division of Marine Fisheries own website to confirm this. See how the rest of our "fish stocks" are faring here.........

It is time to "evacuate" ourselves from a politically run marine fisheries system here in NC!

Far too long have a handful of coastal politicians stood guard over a mismanaged and corrupt marine fisheries system for the sake of money. Our coastal resources have been sacrificed on the altar of convenience and status-quo for monetary and political gain!

Yes, our Canary in the Coal Mine is dead. Where is the nearest exit?