Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Actions of the General Assembly in the Short Session, 2012 related to marine fisheries

The Marine Fisheries Study Committee was established after the 2011 General Assembly failed to act on the game fish bill HB 353.  That bill would have made striped bass, speckled trout, and red drum game fish that could not be taken except by hook and line and could not be sold.  Below is the charge given to the Marine Fisheries Study Committee.  The Committee met four times between January and April without significant progress and very little discussion on any of the pressing issues given to it for study. 

Marine Fisheries Study Committee – Study issues related to marine fisheries.  Specifically, the Committee 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, Spotted Sea Trout, and Striped Bass as coastal game fish.

2.      Changes to the appointment process and qualification for membership on the NC Marine Fisheries Commission.

3.      Creation of a hook and line commercial fishery.

4.      Elimination of the trawl boat fishery in NC.

5.      Entering into cooperative agreements with other jurisdictions with regard to the conservation of marine and estuarine resources; and regulating placement of nets and other sport or commercial gear 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 o the Wildlife Resources Commission.\

9.      Other findings that promote the allocation of the State’s resources to the optimum use.

Chairs: McCormick (Brown)

Members: Ingle, Samuelson, McComas, Spear, Holloway, McElraft, Murray (Preston, White, Goolsby, Rabon, Tucker, East, Jackson.)

Their final report resulted in introduction and final passage of SB 821 in the Short Session of 2012.  SB 821 is summarized below.  The most positive provision to come out of this bill is elimination of the menhaden fisheries in NC waters and a super majority requirement for passage of any rule by the Marine Fisheries Commission related to overfishing or recovery of overfished stocks over the recommendation of the staff of the Division of Marine Fisheries.

  • Senate Bill 821.  An act to consolidate several issues raised in the Marine Fisheries Study Committee.  The several issues are addressed below:
    • Directs the agency heads of Agriculture, Marine Fisheries, and Wildlife to study the organizational structure and function of the various fisheries management programs of NC and to report their findings and recommendations for change to the General Assembly in October, 2012.
    • Directs the agency heads of Transportation, Wildlife, and Marine Fisheries to study all available sources of funds to create a new fund to be used for boat navigation projects including channel dredging.  Specifically mentioned are fishing license fees, gasoline taxes, and boat registration fees.
    • Prohibits fishing for menhaden using a mother ship and purse seine runner boats in NC waters after January 1, 2013.
    • Requires a supermajority vote of the Marine Fisheries Commission to override a staff recommendation related to eliminating overfishing or restoration of overfished stocks.
    • Consolidated several of the marine fisheries advisory committees for efficiency.
Another bill coming out of the Marine Fisheries Study Committee that never got heard was SB 850, which would have recreated the Joint Legislative Commission on Fish and Wildlife.  This is a very bad idea and we were able to kill the bill by pointing out some of the problems to sponsors. 

·         Senate Bill 850.  An act to create an oversight committee of 16 legislators to oversee fish and wildlife management programs.  This was a very bad idea, which never got any legs due to conversations with Senate leaders.  Once the problems were explained to sponsors, they decided not to move this bill.  Fish and wildlife management programs do not need legislative oversight, in fact, a system like that would have serious negative effects.  Another good move for sportsmen. 

CFRG is gearing up for another full-fledged effort to make meaningful changes to the management of our marine fisheries.  Announcement will be forthcoming shortly.  The Marine Fisheries Commission meets in Raleigh on August 22-24, 2012.  We will be there representing the interests of sound management and resource protection.  Stay tuned!