Tuesday, September 11, 2012

     In the coming weeks, recreational fishermen will have the opportunity to influence an issue that is having a major effect on fish populations in North Carolina. Four public meetings will be held where comments on the topic of shrimp trawling will be allowed.
     North Carolina is the last state on the Atlantic Coast to allow commercial shrimp trawling in internal waters. As other states banned this terribly destructive practice, their trawlers came to our sounds.
     Recent studies by the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) showed that shrimp trawlers kill an estimated 500 million (half a billion!) small fish every year. Most of this "bycatch" consists of weakfish, croaker, and spot, and these finger-sized fish are destroyed before they reach breeding age, guaranteeing that the fish populations in our sounds cannot recover.
     All recreational fishermen who would like to see our fisheries improve, or any individuals with concern for our marine environment, are encouraged to attend a meeting to state their opinion on this issue. Comments on shrimp trawling will be accepted at the following meetings:
Sept. 19 at 4 p.m.

Southern Advisory Committee Meeting

N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Wilmington Regional Office
127 Cardinal Drive Extension
Wilmington, NC

Sept. 27 at 4 p.m.

Northern Advisory Committee Meeting

Vernon G. James Research & Extension Center
207 Research Station Road
Plymouth, NC

Oct. 2 at 6 p.m.

Shellfish/Crustacean Meeting

Craven County Cooperative Extension Office
300 Industrial Drive
New Bern, NC

Oct. 2 at 1:30 p.m.

Habitat and Water Quality Meeting

N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Washington Regional Office
943 Washington Square Mall
Washington, NC
     If you cannot attend a meeting, your comments can be emailed to Ms. Nancy Fish (nancy.fish@ncdenr.gov). This is a rare opportunity for those who care about our marine fisheries to help change how they are managed and we must not let it slip past. Please attend a meeting or send an email and let your voices be heard!