Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Coastal Fisheries Reform Group Press Release

For Immediate Release

North Carolina Fisheries Reform Group Seeks Coastal Net Ban

Over the last four years, the Coastal Fisheries Reform Group (CFRG), which is composed of thousands of dedicated sport fishermen with the common goal of improving North Carolina's marine fisheries, has worked  diligently within the established system to promote a more equitable and effective fishery management program.  After running into a blank wall at the Maine Fisheries Commission, CFRG carried its concerns to the North Carolina General Assembly in 2009.  Our bill to give coastal game fish status to speckled trout and red drum was derailed by a few coastal legislators even though significant support was present in the public arena and in the legislature.  Our bill never even got a fair hearing and no vote was ever taken. 

In 2011, recreational fishermen came back to a Republican legislature and promises of action on the coastal game fish issue.  House Bill 353 was introduced by a bipartisan group of over 20 Representatives and hope was alive.  At the end of the session, HB 353 was sacrificed on the altar of overriding the Governor's budget veto with the promise that a special study committee would look into this question and other aspects of the marine fisheries program in NC and report legislative changes to the spring session of the legislature.  This special study committee has met twice now without any discernable progress or even meaningful discussion of the most critical issues.

Time is running out and no progress is in sight.  We are hearing that the coastal game fish issue is just too volatile to bring up in an election year.  We are tiring of this same old story that just kicks the issue farther down the road.  We need action now and we will be heard.

With the legislature continuing in its meek course paralyzed into inaction by the loud noise of commercial fisheries interests, CFRG plans to act.  We have retired our effort toward compromise and are rededicated to the cause to eliminate all gill nets from the waters of North Carolina as a conservation measure to protect our marine fisheries and the other aquatic life in our sounds and estuaries.

CFRG is developing plans to unite with all other fish and wildlife conservation organizations and agencies, private, state, and federal, to rid our waters of this destructive gear that has taken and continues to take a terrible toll on our marine resources.