Wednesday, September 14, 2011

NC Legislature Takes up Game Fish Bill and Other Critical Marine Fisheries Issues

Co-chair, Darrell McCormick

Renewing the hopes of NC saltwater anglers, the NC legislature today created a joint study committee of seven senators and seven representatives that will be co-chaired by Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown from Jacksonville and Representative Darrell McCormick from Winston Salem, and charged with studying NC Marine Fisheries issues including the subject of game fish. HB353, the coastal game fish bill was introduced but never voted on by the legislature this past session even though unofficial vote tallies showed a veto-proof count of supporters in both chambers.

The study committee will operate under the following guidelines:

The house members are; Darryl McCormick, Co-chair, Dan Ingle, Ruth Samuelson, Danny McComas, Tim Spear, Pat McElraft and Bryan Holloway.
The Senate members are: Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, Co-chair, Jean Preston, Stan White, Thom Goolsby, Bill Rabon, Don East, and Tommy Tucker.
Study issues related to marine fisheries. Specifically, the subcommittee may study the following:
1. The potential impact to both the State's fisheries resources and the State's economy related to the designation of Red Drum (Sciaenops Ocellatus), Spotted Sea Trout (Cynoscion Nebulosus), and Striped Bass (deleted word e Saxatillis) as coastal game fish.
2. Changes to the appointment process and qualification for membership on the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission.
3. Creation of a hook and line commercial fishery.
4. Elimination of the trawl boat fishery in North Carolina.
5. Entering into reciprocal agreements with other jurisdictions with regard to the conservation of marine and estuarine resources; and regulating placement of nets and other sports or commercial fishing apparatus in coastal fishing waters with regard to navigational and recreational safety as well as from a conservation standpoint.
6. Entering into agreements regarding the delegation of law enforcement powers from the National Marine Fisheries Service over matters within the jurisdiction of the Service.
7. Potential modification of the Fisheries Reform Act of 1997.
8. Whether Marine Fisheries should be a division of the Coastal Resources Commission or the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.
9. Other findings that promote the allocation of the State's resources to the optimum use.
While NC saltwater anglers were infuriated when HB353 died in committee, it appears now that along with other significant issues, it can be resurrected in this committee, and can in fact be brought back to the legislature in the coming session for consideration and an ultimate vote. Either way, what has never happened up to this point is now apparently about to happen, and that is an open and honest discussion and consideration of all the facts that support the long overdue concept of game fish status for Speckled Trout, Red Drum, and Striped Bass in NC Coastal waters!

The committee will be meeting Jan-April on the second Thursday of each month in the Legislative Building. The next meeting will be open to Public Comment and is scheduled for Feb 2, 1-4 pm in the auditorium of the Legislative building at 16 West Jones Street Raleigh, NC. Please be in attendance and show your support for these issues especially the Gamefish Bill.
Please take time to email the members of the committee and urge them to move forward with game fish status for these three valuable sportfish! Their email links are as follows;
Senate Majority Leader and Co-chair, Harry Brown,
Senator Don East,
Senator Thom Goolsby,
Senator Bill Rabon,
Senator Tommy Tucker,
Senator Jean Preston,
Senator Stan White,
Representative and Co-chair, Darrell McCormick,
Representative Dan Ingle,
Representative Ruth Samuelson,
Representative Danny McComas,
Representative Bryan Holloway,
Representative Pat McElraft,
Representative Tim Spear,

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

HB 353, The Coastal Game Fish Bill Filed in NC Legislature Today!

HB 353, the "Coastal Game Fish Bill" was filed today in the House of the NC General Assembly. Primary Sponsors of the bill are Darrell McCormick, Rick Glazier, Dan Ingle, and Ruth Samuelson. This bill when made law would prohibit the sale of Red Drum, Spotted Sea Trout, and Striped Bass here in NC. A "game fish" is simply a fish that cannot be bought or sold, and is managed as a recreational fish only.

These 3 fish only represent less than 2% of the commercial harvest values here in NC, but combined the positive economic impacts easily exceed 250 million dollars to the NC economy annually as recreational sport fish. South Carolina designated these fish as game fish in the mid 1980's, and it is high time NC follows suit! You can see the bill at this link....

Go to the NC Game Fish website and see a complete list of NC legislators with their email links here...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

NC Marine Fisheries Commission Continues Ocean Striper Trawling, Commercial Harvest of Speckled Trout Disguised as "By-catch"!

CFRG leadership attended the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission meeting in Pine Knoll Shores, NC yesterday and today. On the agenda were the issues of the Striped Bass harvest by Trawl, and the closure of the Speckled Trout Fishery. As you know, thousands of Stripers were publicly wasted in the last few weeks, and we have eyewitness accounts from well respected charter captains to these events. Even with all the photos, video, and outcry from other Atlantic coastal states, our Marine Fisheries Commissioners voted today to continue this wasteful practice of trawling for stripers, and will continue to do so until the final 60,000 pounds of their quota is reached. Conservation groups were dumbfounded at this move today.


But wait, it gets even better! When the topic of the Speckled Trout closure came up for discussion, we requested that they keep the harvest of Speckled Trout closed thru the summer so the larger fish would be given plenty of time to spawn. Since mature females will spawn every 4 to 6 days starting in May and continuing throughout the summer, this would be our best recipe for maximum spawning success. DMF staff recommended ending the closure on June 15, which according to them, would get the fish through the most intense spawning weeks of May and June. We would have been fine with that. No harvest for anyone until June 15, but that is where our commercially run MFC stepped in.

Commissioner Bradley Styron, fish house owner and dealer, pushed through a motion to let commercial gill netters catch and sell 50 pounds of Speckled Trout per day, as long as those trout equaled only 10% of the other fish caught by the fisherman. This will go into effect this week! So here we go again with paying folks to have accidents! We already know how that is working out with our Red Drum don't we? We would never have recommended a closure of the trout harvest for recreational fishermen if we had known that they would still allow the harvest and sale of trout by commercial gill netters! This is wrong, and it is unfair!

If there was ever any doubt in your mind why we MUST have game fish protection for Speckled Trout, we hope this incident has resolved all of those issues for you! As long as Speckled Trout remain a commercial fish, this tug of war will be never ending. It must end now! The only answer is GAME FISH status for Speckled Trout, Red Drum, and Striped Bass!

Our commercially run, money hungry, corrupt MFC has crossed the line for the final time! Please send our governor an email telling her what a great job her hand appointed MFC is doing at

Monday, January 24, 2011

NC Striper Slaughter; The Untold Numbers and Video!

According to the NC Division of Marine Fisheries, on Saturday, January 15th, 2011, the NC commercial trawling vessel "Jamie Lynn" from NC accidentally netted between 3 to 4 thousand Striped Bass. The haul was so large that the captain of the ship decided to "dump" or release all of the fish except the 50 he was legally allowed to keep. Since that day, the internet and public media has been flooded with photos like the one above, and video like this

What has not gotten much attention though is the overlooked math that this event produces, and the ultimate reward that was given to the very fishermen who caused all this waste. Lets look at the "math" a little more closely:

4,000 Stripers Killed in one pull by one trawler on one day
Multiply that by the poundage of one mature Striper, lets say, 20 pounds average

4,000 X 20 pounds = 80,000 pounds!

Now we have one boat, on one pull, on one day, that kills 80,000 pounds of mature stripers!

Why is this math important? NC commercial fishermen are restricted to a total annual harvest of 480,480 pounds of Striped Bass. This limit is set by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which is a governing body that oversees fish like Striped Bass that migrate up and down the Atlantic Seaboard, and are shared by multiple coastal states.

Of that 480,480 pounds that NC is allowed for annual harvest, only 160,660 pounds of that is allowable by the commercial trawling fleet. So, in one day, one trawler, on one pull, killed 50% (fifty percent) of the total allowable harvest for the trawling fleet here in NC! Of that 80,000 pounds of dead Striper, the boat only kept 50 fish, and dumped and estimated 79,000 pounds of Striped Bass back into the ocean!

Now this is the story that the NC DMF isn't telling. That it was one boat, and an "isolated" incident. But that is not what seasoned commercial captains are saying. They are saying that this is a reoccurring event on the outer banks each winter, and that this year there were many more eyes on the water to witness it. Many of these captains are professional charter boat operators, and many have seen enough of the wanton waste that this trawl fishery produces!

In one pull, this trawler not only killed 50% of the allowable catch for trawlers, it also killed over 20% of the total allowable Striper harvest for all commercial methods!

The Striped Bass is of tremendous economic importance to much of the Atlantic coastal states. If the ASMFC has agreed to allow NC commercial fishermen to harvest 480,480 pounds of Striped Bass, and trawlers kill 80,000 pounds of fish to keep 1,000 pounds, what will the final tally on wasted dead stripers be when the carnage is over?

Now the daily limit of 50 fish for these trawlers has been replaced with a 2,000 pound per day limit. Those 50 fish they were keeping must have weighed 40 pounds a piece? And what about the by-catch they can't keep? The minimum size limit is 28 inches. How many 28 inch fish will be killed in the process?

How much waste will be created by 10, 20, or 50 trawlers?

Once again, NC fisheries management is the laughing stock of the entire nation. You have to laugh to keep from crying!

Please contact the following people who can help change the laws to insure this never happens again:
NC Marine Fisheries Commissioners can all be emailed at this link

Email NC Governor Beverly Perdue,

Email NC Division of Marine Fisheries Director, Louis Daniel,

Friday, January 14, 2011

Video of Cold Stunned Speckled Trout in NC

Fishing for Speckled Trout was ended today due to the second "cold stun" event in NC coastal waters in the last 12 months. See the video at the following link....

Thursday, January 13, 2011

NCDMF Director Louis Daniel Shuts Down Speckled Trout Harvest Due to Cold Stun Kill

By "proclamation" Dr. Louis Daniel, NCDMF Director, shut down all harvest of Spotted Sea Trout statewide in response to the extended bitter cold weather and subsequent killing and stunning of trout. The CFRG applauds Dr. Daniel and his staff for taking this proactive measure to protect remaining fish to spawn this summer. We hope the Marine Fisheries Commission, who will have the final say on this proclamation, will support Dr. Daniel's position, and leave the moratorium in place until the end of spawning season this fall. Please see the proclamation below:

N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Release: Immediate Contact: Patricia Smith

Date: Jan. 12, 2011 Phone: (252) 726-7021 or (252) 342-0642

State to Close Spotted Seatrout Harvest Due to Cold Stun Events

MOREHEAD CITY – North Carolina will close all coastal waters to commercial and recreational spotted seatrout harvest for an indefinite period beginning at noon Friday.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Director Louis Daniel issued a proclamation today implementing the closure, after consulting with N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Chairman Rob Bizzell.

The action is being taken in response to recent cold stun events in Rose Bay, Juniper Bay, Pungo River, Campbell Creek, Turnigan Bay, Spooners Creek and other waters. The intent of the closure is to prevent the harvest of vulnerable cold stunned fish, which may recover with warming temperatures.

“On the heels of two cold stun events, one in 2010 and now in 2011, and pretty large commercial and recreational catch rates in 2009, I believe this is the best thing for the fishery,” Daniel said.

In approving the Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan in November, the Marine Fisheries Commission authorized Daniel to temporarily close harvest in the event of a cold stun event. The commission will review the closure and consider extending it at is Feb. 11 meeting in Pine Knoll Shores.

For more information, contact division biologist Beth Burns at (252) 473-5734, extension 221, or

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

CFRG Requests Immediate Statewide Closure to Speckled Trout Harvest

The following email was sent to Dr. Louis Daniel, Director of the NC Division of Marine Fisheries today:

Dear Dr. Daniel,

The Coastal Fisheries Reform Group is requesting an immediate statewide closure of fishing for Spotted Sea Trout. Substantiated reports of thousands of dead and dying trout are coming in from all areas of our coastal waters. DMF staff has documented many of these events. These current events coupled with the major event we experienced hardly twelve months ago magnifies the need to protect remaining fish from further harvest. Anything less than a statewide closure will create increased fishing pressure in areas that would remain open to harvest.

Your immediate attention to this matter will be greatly appreciated by all North Carolina saltwater anglers.

Dean Phillips

Coastal Fisheries Reform Group