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NC panel dumps bid for trawler ban in sounds

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EMERY P. DALESIO
Associated Press

RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- North Carolina's coastal fishing regulator is rejecting a proposal that would have banned shrimp boats from trawling in the region's rivers and sounds and forcing them into the open ocean.

The Marine Fisheries Commission meeting in Raleigh on Thursday unanimously dumped a petition seeking rules declaring most internal coastal waters as seafood nursery areas off limits to trawlers.

Supporters of the ban blame shrimpers' massive nets for collecting and killing millions of fish in the inshore waters where juvenile sea creatures grow up. Only the New Bern man proposing the plan spoke on its behalf during the four-hour hearing.

Members of the fishing and seafood industries packed the meeting, warning it could lead to the loss of thousands of jobs aboard the shrimp boats and in related businesses.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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So lets Do SCIENCE!

MFC has to decide whether or not our estuarine resources are worthy of protection from shrimp trawlers. The number of juvenile fish being killed every year is staggering, with hundreds of millions of croaker, spot, and weakfish dying for about 5 million pounds of shrimp. Many other species are also killed by the trawlers but those are the top three. They were once extremely valuable recreational and commercial targets in North Carolina. Now, all three have declined to a level where they are rarely targeted by anyone. Many studies have been conducted by our DMF or its predecessor agency to show where the nursery areas are for numerous species, including croaker, spot, and weakfish. The nursery areas have been surveyed regularly since 1971 and those surveys resulted in the following quote from a former DMF Director ...

“Nursery areas are those in which juvenile development occurs. The entire estuarine system is a major nursery area for many economically important species. Though virtually every portion of the estuarine system serves as a nursery area for some species, two special categories of estuarine nursery areas are officially recognized – primary and secondary nursery areas.” Hogarth, W. et al., IV. Fisheries. NCDMF.

He said this because he had examined the studies that were available and upon doing so realized that the conclusion about the entire estuarine system as a nursery area was obvious. What data reports had he used to make that conclusion?

The following are some of the most telling and for the sake of brevity, We will focus on weakfish:


1. Purvis, C. 1976. Nursery Area Survey of Northern Pamlico Sound and Tributaries. Completion Report For Project Number 2-230-P, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.

It was stated in here that regarding weakfish, “Fifty-four of the 60 sampling stations produced catches which would indicate that this species does not adhere to a typical nursery area pattern. Juveniles appeared to prefer more open waters for nursery areas, showing the highest catch/effort in the Type II and III habitat.”

2. Hawkins, J. 1982. Project I, Estuarine Fish Stock Assessment Nursery Area Monitoring, in North Carolina, in North Carolina Estuarine Finfish Management Program by S. Ross, J. Hawkins, D. DeVries, and C. Harvel, Completion Report for Project 2-372-R.

This report again confirms that weakfish prefer deeper waters when it stated; “New recruits seemed to favor the secondary areas as nursery habitat, reaffirming similar observations by Spitsbergen and Wolff -1974), Purvis(1976), and Baisden (1979)”.

This report also indicated that no less than four studies had been completed by 1982 which showed that the weakfish nursery is in the deeper waters of our estuary system. But the studies continued.

3. Epperly, S. P. 1984. Fishes of the Pamlico-Albemarle Peninsula, N.C. Area Utilization and Potential Impacts. Special Scientific Report No. 42 CEIP Report No. 23, NC Dept. Nat. Res. and Comm. Dev. Div. Marine Fish.

In this report, it stated that; “Weakfish prefer high salinity water and were captured most frequently in Pamlico Sound stations located north of Bluff Shoal (Figure 50). Seine and wing trawl catches (mainly in shallow or low salinity areas) were small, emphasizing the juveniles' preference for deeper, higher salinity areas.”

By 1989, the DMF seemed to understand that the weakfish nursery was not in shallow water areas. This is evidenced by:

4. Mercer, L. 1989. Weakfish. NCDMF.

"The use of estuarine areas as nursery grounds by weakfish is well documented. Juveniles are collected most frequently in trawl sampling of the deeper waters of rivers, bays, and sounds…”.

AND THEN – in 1991, the DMF designated nursery areas for estuarine waters. But in doing so, they ignored weakfish (and spot) because they realized that including the nursery area for these fish would in essence, force them to designate all of our inshore waters as a nursery area. So they only used species that would provide the desired nursery boundaries.

The next three quotes are from; Noble, E, and R. Monroe. 1991. Classification of Pamlico Sound Nursery areas: recommendations for critical habitat criteria. NC Dept. Envir, Health, and Nat. Res.

“At present, usually only spot, Atlantic croaker, Atlantic menhaden, southern flounder, brown shrimp, and blue crab are used in CPUE comparative analyses by DMF for primary nursery area designations. ….. These same species are used for all areas in the Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system.”

“Spot was omitted because it is so ubiquitous in the nursery areas of the Pamlico Sound estuarine complex that its value in creating station groupings was minimal.”

“Species which were present in very low numbers (spotted seatrout, weakfish and silver perch) in the riverine systems had their highest class means in the Pamlico Sound core group. … …there are habitats in these areas that qualify for nursery designation, but are not as yet protected.” (and they still are not protected).

Our Pamlico Sound “P195” survey for juvenile weakfish is even recognized at the national level as being conducted in the proper location.
"The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries conducts a juvenile trawl survey in Pamlico Sound. The survey occurs within a prime weakfish spawning/nursery ground and provides the only recruitment index in the southern portion of the range.” From - The ASMFC's 2009 Weakfish Stock Assessment Report.

It was well known when nursery areas were originally designated in North Carolina that the weakfish nursery area (and those for some other species) was in the open waters of the Pamlico Sound and that these areas needed to be designated as nurseries but were not. This is a simple fact that needs to be dealt with today.

Please understand, the nursery areas are not static – they move. When juvenile fish start moving toward the ocean, their secondary nursery moves with them. There is a strong correlation between the presence of some juvenile finfish and juvenile shrimp – they share a nursery. We fully realize that not every portion of inshore water is a secondary nursery at every moment. But it is important to recognize that at different times during the year, different parts of our estuary system are nursery areas, and in the end, all inshore waters are a nursery at one time or another. That was known by the DMF when the quote presented above stating that “the entire estuarine system is a major nursery area” was made and it is known now.

Hopefully the MFC will address this properly SOON!

FURTHERMORE....

Dr. Louis Daniel was asked the following by Bert Owens from Beaufort:

"Can you assure me that NC is protecting all the KNOWN nurseries of spot, croaker, and gray trout from trawling activity?"

Dr. Daniel replied, "No"

Thus; Tim Hergenrader's assertion within the petition that the DMF and MFC are not protecting all known nurseries of these three fish, (Spots/Croaker/Weakfish;Gray Trout) has been validated.

It is about complying with the law itself. Not complying by the DMF and MFC is their version of not counting turtles.

NC law says you can not trawl in a nursery. The head of the DMF said we are out of compliance.
Legally you can not trawl in a nursery regardless of head rope size, BRD on board, or the size of mesh in the tailbag.

Failing to follow the law, now that folks are watching, will certainly encourage a legal remedy to be sought.

Some will say that the law applies only to designated nurseries, not actual nurseries.

Twenty million pounds of legally destroyed bycatch each year in our estuaries seems to say that is true in application.

But suppose when the nursery maps were drawn, known nurseries were excluded by design; and you had proof of it!

Would you ask why? If the current Director knows all known nurseries are not being protected from trawls even with the law that is in place; what is he really saying?

"Shrimp trawling is King"....Connie Purvis, July 2013

They are in violation of their very own laws. Just goes to show you the back room politics and the shady deals that are being made for the almighty shrimp. Destruction at all costs!!!! Wonder why we are the last state to allow inside trawl? Are all the other States wrong? Why did they decide to close inside waters? Was the science behind their decisions different than ours? Does their science come to a different conclusion than ours?

So much for our State Government fighting to protect our State resources. Ahhhhhh Good ol' Politics !!
In fairness to Dr. Daniel he was not with the Division when the maps were drawn.

And when asked point blank in a room filled with commercial shrimpers he answered the question with a correct answer.

As long as the MFC is willing to be out of compliance with the law the Director must do what they tell him.

The current MFC didn't create this mess. Lets see if this one is willing to clean it up however.

Love our fresh caught local shrimp

If you are so smart why don't you apply for the job, since they don't know what they are doing? We have wildlife preserves, that doesn't mean that the wildlife "only" lives and breeds there. There are nurseries that are protected. Nobody said that all of them are. MOST fishermen I know are responsible stewards. It wouldn't benefit them and the upcoming generations to destroy our way of life. I know that when my grandfather would catch fish while shrimping then he fed anyone and everyone that needed the extra food on the table. Those were the days when we looked out for each other instead of publicly trying to make people look bad.There is always going to be some "waste" or unintended catch. It comes with the territory. Nobody wants the spot or croaker to disappear. I mean really that is what you people seem to think. This is the stuff that drives folks over the edge. Just like with those darn piping plovers that I have learned how to eat in a pot pie just because I'm tired of the bull.
On another subject what is up with the "injun" slur? We are native americans. People used that word right along with stupid and savage and I find it as offensive as the N word.
Please have a good day. We don't have to take the way of life, a culture and ruin people trying to make an honest living. Global warming and litter (plastic bags)is doing more harm than shrimping ever will!

I was *ONCE* a Commerical Shellfisherman

AND for a couple "seasons" a INSIDE Shrimper....
So in the INTEREST's of the CITIZENS of NC, AND OUR PUBLIC Juvenile Fisheries...

There are *Ocean Shrimpers*, that catch those Shrimp "before they are gone"...
Folks Fishing "INSIDE" are Shrimping the ICW that you can almost throw a BASEBALL Across, (such as area(s) in Brunswick Co...)

There ARE Alternatives, such as "Skimmers" et al that catch just as MANY Shrimp, though DO NOT KILL the Juvi finfish...
Our interest in bycatch concerns and says; through upcoming studies and Fishery Management plans bycatch will be reduced.

Since that time over 300 million pounds of juvenile bycatch has been killed in our estuaries with about half of that being spot, croaker, and gray trout.

In 1998 bycatch ratios were 4.5:1(pound of shrimp) and remain that to this day.
AND Folks that REC Fish wonder WHY Spot Runs et al, are hardly there as they once were...

The MFC collectively says; they had no "data" to show bycatch was harmful. They again admit there is none to show it isn't.

There is plenty of data out there from around the world that shows bycatch is harmful to localized finfish populations.

But most MFC members don't have the time to research their own data. They make their decisions based solely on data given them by the DMF. Virtually all the data the MFC operates on is what is presented to them by the DMF.

WE Challenged A "scientist", on the MFC about the by catch numbers. After he finished his statement made under the guise of asking a question, We told him please don't tell us that We can't use extrapolation, when fisheries management is based upon extrapolation.
(Basic Math Folks)...

We also pointed out to him that the figures We used came directly from Dr. Daniel. WE turned to the Director and asked him if that was true. He responded yes.

Then, He stood up in front of the world and said he gave those figures, His words were,, under extreme pressure!!! Extreme pressure? From whom or where?
Then he said he didn't believe his own numbers....As a honest Injun. That is what he said. Never mind that the DMF has supplied by catch numbers many times in the past, but now they must retreat behind scientific mumbo jumbo led by the "scientist" on the MFC, who votes consistently with the commercial interests, each and every time. So much for science.

The leader of the DMF exhibit's an almost total lack of leadership. He stumbles and bumbles from one calamity to the next, most of which caused by a lack of consistent, resource oriented direction. That is why in OUR humble opinion, we have the problems we have.

MFC Commissioners come and go. These commissioners must depend upon the DMF to provide them with scientific data to make an educated vote. What they got: was we cannot say the nurseries are being protected, but we don't have any scientific evidence that losing 218 million dead spot, croaker and weakfish has any negative effect on the their downward spiraling populations.

Don't forget boys and girls, spot, croaker and weakfish make up only about 50 percent of the by catch numbers, so double that to 436 million creatures of all kind, part of a delicate food chain being taken from our estuary annually.

Dr. Daniel's was Asked the following question yesterday: "Are trawlers currently being permitted to work in areas that serve as weakfish nurseries that have not been officially designated as nurseries?" The question was repeated, Asked to answer as a simple yes or no would suffice.

I have yet to receive an answer.
So when there is NO MORE "Spot Runs" You've got Someone(s) to Blame...
Enjoy your NC, Fresh Caught **INSIDE** Shrimp....
Signed: Former Commercial Shell fisherman AND NC Native...

To the person(s) complaining

To the person(s) complaining about commercial fishermen killing millions of juvenile fish, please never eat seafood again. If you can not support a fishery that has been proven to be sustainable by our state's top researchers then you do not deserve to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Please eat imported, chemically enhanced seafood which has minimal to no regulation in its country of origin. North Carolina commercial fishermen help feed the world. Please back off and let us do our job. We will answer to the researchers and scientist that we invite aboard our vessels and give all of our catch reports to. Thank you for your consideration. I hope that one day you will decide to loosen up and enjoy North Carolina shrimp fresh from the sound, they are delicious. . Clearly you are not aware of the amount of live bottom offshore of our state, which makes it nearly impossible to have a successful drag without ruining a net. However, if you really hate it that much.. You could always move back up north. (Just a guess!?!?). ;)

Well said!

Very well said J Lea....Over regulation comes from the uneducated!

Shrimp fresh uncontaminated in N.C.

Very well said. Unlike recreational fishermen, commercial fishermen report via tickets everything they bring to the dock. The ones complaining need to spend some time out with our men/women fishing and learn the facts before sounding off. These folks risk their lives so that they can make an honorable living ( they aren't getting rich) and provide us with the best seafood around! Sounds like they'd get more respect if they went on the welfare payroll! Afterall, when they get hurt or sick they don't have insurance or workers comp. Who are they going to sue? I agree....go back north to your big city living and eat your packaged food that comes from God only knows where.

Keep our fishermen fishing

I'm so glad that nobody listened to that fool. Take away his pen. If anybody cared they would see that one our coast is not designed like S.C.'s and that we do have protected intercoastal waterways. Our fishermen are loved and needed. They are not about to destroy the one thing that provides them a living. Please do your homework before you start typing!

Fish have reef buddies and shoal mates---

We ought not be trawling all up and down in the nursery areas. This is just further destruction of what was once one of the greatest natural resources in the USA. Tourism creates jobs, it is common knowledge, and just look, every other state in the SE does not allow trawling in the nursery areas, ask them how many jobs were lost or created--- the truth is there for all to see.
We as users of this resource should stop complaining, and put our shoulders to the gate...

We do have protected nurseries. We didn't ask you to come here.

dollardivots, obviously you haven't learned or researched the subject. We do have protected nurseries. Our "NC" coastline is not like the rest of the east coast. Once our shrimp hit the ocean they are gone. The shrimpers boats are not designed to go out there and they do take precautions. Nets have been altered to allow other species out. There will always be some bycatch. Please research our coast and fishermen and you will see. I don't know where that crack pot came from with his ban on shrimping, but the government that has over-regulated our fishermen as it is even knew it was baseless. I guess if it isn't you loosing your job then its not a big deal. Fishing in general is part of my culture. It has been how my family has made a living long before the darn tourist. Everyone thinks we have to have them...we don't. Life would be different, but us natives ( generational) are a tough lot and we will be just fine. So if you feel the need, go vacation in trashy, over built Myrtle Beach or the drugged up Jersey coast. Don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split ya!

there is absolutely no

there is absolutely no reason that any net is allowed inside the waterways or rivers, nothing but greed, this is the area these fish and juvenile shrimp raise in, any Sunday afternoon you will see small boats dragging the waterways for shrimp that are to small to even use for bait and killing millions of small fish for a couple pounds of shrimp, it is pitiful, they will not be happy until every last fish is KILLED, it's time to put a stop to it, we are the last state left to allow it and our fishery is suffering from it!

Thank God our regulators are

Thank God our regulators are smarter than you!!

If you only knew

If you only knew what you were talking about!! Are you a biologist or part of the marine fishery commission? What is the basis for your bashing, other than your personal opinion? To start with, the intracoastal waterways are not nursery areas for juvenile shrimp. Creeks and shallow water bays are nursery areas and these areas are closed year round for shrimping. And no, you will not see small boats dragging the waterways any Sunday afternoon. Only certain times of the year and certain areas are open for shrimping as determined by the marine fishery commission. Shrimping is only allowed in these areas on Sundays after 5:00PM. All shrimping is closed from 1 hour after sundown on Friday evenings until 5PM Sunday. And what gives you the right to say there is absolutely no reason than any net should be allowed inside the waterways or rivers, it's well within the laws as determined by our State Marine Fishery Commission. That's like saying there is absolutely no reason anyone, including you, should be allowed to drive a vehicle on public roads, because driving accidents cause millions of Human deaths every year. Does that mean you won't be happy until all Humans are KILLED?? And finally, if you're not willing to post using your name, your post has no merit.

Given my user name, it is

Given my user name, it is easy to conclude that I do not agree with your last sentence. Some of us have very good reasons not to use our real names. That doesn't mean that our opinions don't count.

As for the rest of it, I defer to your judgment. The only fishing I ever did was with my dad on the Cape Fear River and at Lake Waccamaw. He knows everything there is to know about fishing in those waters. As someone being inexperienced in the matters of the nurseries and juvenile fishing things, I will say that it does not make since for commercial fisherman to have any practices that will dry up their resources. It's not like you are big business who will come in, dry up the resources, then move on.

I LOVE SHRIMP CAUGHT IN OUR COASTAL WATERS!

Soooooo glad to see that this has been put aside and that our local watermen can go about their livelihood like they have for so many years. There are no better shrimp in this world than those caught right here on our coast. Anyone that disagrees.....just get your seafood from one of those foreign countries. This state has plenty of "nursery protected areas"....I know, I have used one of those little nets in the past.....but now buy mine from the locals!!

i agree

i agree