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Do you think commercial fishing regulations designed to protect sea turtles should apply to recreational fishing?

Poll Results

Though only a handfull of folks chose to comment, the poll seems to suggest that a majority desires to see some monitoring and accountability for the rec sector regarding turtle interactions.
Too much money involved to believe anything will really happen though.

I wasn't aware recreational

I wasn't aware recreational fishermen used nets that can entangle a turtle.

Yes, there is a commercial

Yes, there is a commercial gear license available and lots of recs set gillnets.

I don't personally like the

I don't personally like the idea that my occasional fishing trips may be impacted by this but I believe the laws should be applied equally to everyone. Until the laws are changed then they should not be selectively enforced against one person and not another. If coms are being regulated by the ESA for interactions with turtles then so should any other person or group who similarly interacts with turtles... I guess even if it impacts my hobby.

I like numbers and factual data with supporting context. A vocal minority on both sides of the aisle have supplied a lot of misinformation or information without context in an attempt to build support from the masses which was bound to come to a head (like this lawsuit) at some point.

I always hear about economic value. I heard comms give an economic value which also includes imported seafood to NC (which was not disclosed). I've heard recs say the that group contributes over a billion dollars annually to NC (but unlike the commercial value, the data used to develop the rec figure included things like boat sales, commission on real estate sales of second homes on the coast, homeowners dues for those homes, bait, fuel, ice) The folks making that argument failed to mention none of those items were factored into the comm value.

If its determined I need to limit or stop my rec fishing to protect a turtle, then I'm okay with that.

I agree....

Let the state, federal government, data from other states, and data from traditional conservation groups like Oceana, PEW,, EDF and others furnish all the data on turtle interactions with hooks and nets (all nets including shrimp trawls) to the court and then let the judge decide who needs to be limited, monitored, or shut down based on turtle mortality.

I couldn't agree more. The more this issue is put under a microscope the better.

Commercial Fishing Regulations

Its simple as this. Go fishing inside and its unusual to catch anything noteworthy! We know the cause of this. Gill nets, inside trawling, nets stretched accross creek mouths and so called "fishermen" slapping the water chasing fish (flounder) into the nets. No wonder there are no fish-juveniles never reach maturity. Can't even catch crocker/pigfish of any size anymore. Commercial fisherman are concerned about recreational fisherman running them out of business. Thats not gonna happen. Commercial guys are doing it to themselves with the help of our state government! Can't see the woods for the trees! Just a matter of time before its over for both if something isn't done soon.

I always get a kick out of

I always get a kick out of the lack of reasoning when someone says I can't catch any fish because the comms are netting them. Apparently it has more to do with the skill set of the angler. If the comms are netting flounder by "slapping the water", maybe the rec oughta figure out a way to target those fish that the comm seems to have no trouble finding. When I look at the fishing reports on some of the forums, it's apparent from the trip reports and photos of drum, trout, and flounder that not all recs are faced with the same challenge. So whaich way is it? I don't think there's that much concern over pigfish and croaker, as there are lots of other choices if you choose to use natural bait. Pinfish and lizzards are plentiful and make good bait.

That didn't take long....

You joined this conversation by saying you were a recreational angler and were concerned about turtles.

When recreational anglers joined in and said we all should be, and started offering up ways that are known to save turtle lives suddenly you change the subject and ultimately accuse us via the phrase "you and yours" of opening up this can of worms.

We haven't sued anyone.

Lots and lots of recreational anglers have been asking for reform in the rules that NC allows fishing in our waters.

Anyone who has been involved in these discussions for years recognizes that defer and deflect defense you now offer up. A lot of people want to attack, but when asked to defend, then suddenly it becomes a name calling effort.

Everyone involved has a right to their opinion. I just want all the actual data put on the table and a recanting of correct historical events that lead up to this put forth. The casual observer and the new person to the discussion needs to know exactly how we got to where we are and for what reasons.

If continued fishing while limiting our interactions with turtles is the "can of worms" we opened, them yeah....we are guilty.

But we haven't sued anyone over turtles. Neither has the NCFA if you really think about it.

The only lawsuit filed in recent years was the Beasley suit and that was about one party in the ITP not living up to an agreement to keep it valid. Not turtles themselves. Think about it.

This lawsuit is about perceived application of the ESA on all parties, not turtles, and also a headcount on turtles so that laws protecting turtles can be dropped or relaxed as they relate to men with nets or hooks.

Once again...lots of time, money, and effort expended by the state of NC, and all for things that have nothing to do with saving the lives of turtles, but rather the attempt to continue fishing as we've always done.

We have a bad habit of doing that a lot. Checked the stock status on our inshore fish populations lately? A lot of concerned, over fished, and depleted classifications over there.

I am a rec

Why do you find it so hard to believe that all recs do not approve of your agenda and the manner in which you align with the hugger groups?
Word on the street is that your ramblings are getting old even with some of your former cohorts.

I am a recreational angler

Ray, why do you find it so hard to believe that there are recreational anglers out here that don't agree with your agenda, and in particular the manner in which you have aligned you and your groups with the hugger groups. Many of us believe that what has worked so far can continue to work, i.e. recs and comms coexisting.
Word on the street is your ramblings are getting old even for some that you might consider your cohorts.

My cohorts?

This article and initial posts were about how ESA laws are applied to all fishermen.

What, other than attempts to look at the real facts turned this into posts of personal attacks?

I am sorry it took that turn. The only "Hugger" group that I knowingly am a member of is the United Methodist Church, but to my knowledge they have voiced no interest in this.

I don't know who you define as my "cohorts". I am just a nobody from nowhere and speak for no group or entity. I will say that most of my friends think we have been too polite and too benign with these issues considering all the facts. I am aware of that.

If you want to get back to what this article was about I will gladly debate, but if you wish to avoid the issue of saving turtles while we all still fish but rather engage in personal affronts I will gladly let you have the floor to yourself.

Talking about other people never retained anyone's right to fish, illuminated an issue, or saved a single turtle.

Take care!

Turtle rules already apply to recreational fishermen....

This poll is very misleading. The same rules that apply to commercial fishermen already apply to recreational fishermen. If some reporter would simply do some investigation versus listening to press releases one would see that.

ANYONE who has an interaction with a turtle that results in a harmed specimen has to report it. Makes no difference whether they are recreational or commercial.

Studies have shown that commercial fishing nets cause more interactions with turtles per hour of use than recreational fish hooks. All a reporter has to do in Wilmington is contact the Beasley Turtle Hospital for information about the greatest threats to see turtles.

Commercial fishermen in NC enjoy an exception to the endangered species act that no other state does. Every other state banned the use of gillnets rather than allow any turtle deaths by gillnets. You can research that fact too.

With that exception came a caveat. To enjoy that exception the commercial fishermen were allowed a number of dead turtles per year and all the fishermen had to do was count the dead turtles found in their nets. The season would stay open until that amount was reached.

Without blaming anyone for the lack of reporting, the fact remains. Commercial fishermen and the DMF went nearly 2 years and reported not a single dead turtle to NOAA from nets even though the NC Wildlife Resources Commission was getting many reports. Finally the federal government sent in undercover observers and found multiple dead turtles in gillnets the first day they arrived and yet, none were being reported.

Immediately the fishery was closed and once again the state of NC went to their aid in spite of a threatened law suit by the Beasley Turtle Hospital. The agreement was continued, but this time the commercial fishermen were not allowed to self report. A certain percent of their trips have to be monitored so that figures about how many turtles are being killed can be compiled. For the first two years the NC taxpayer has been billed almost $1,000,000 dollars per year for these observers. Last year the legislature told the fishermen they would have to pay for their own observers or else the fishery would shut down per the terms of the exception. The agreement with the federal government says the funds have to be identified prior to the plan year or else the nets have to come out of the water for non observance. (Sept 1 though Aug 31 of each year)

The fishermen couldn't figure out how to raise such funds, so they asked the legislature to raise license fees for all commercial fishermen, fish brokers, as well as recreational fishermen who use commercial gear to pay the fees. The legislature just did that for them, but there is a problem.

If the number of licenses contract on renewal there will not be enough money to cover these expenses thus the nets would have to come out of the water. So the commercial fishermen would be faced with three choices. Raise the fees again, get the tax payers to again foot the bill for them, or add to the number of people who would have to be observed those raising more money from fees.

This lawsuit points to the last choice. If they can find a judge to make recreational fishermen be observed like the commercials are they feel they can get the NC legislature to add fees to recreational licenses so observer fees can be raised from everyone.

The only reason commercials have to be observed is because they didn't voluntarily report as recreationals have and continue to do. Ask the Beasley Hospital if the recreational community brings them injured turtles with regularity? The answer will be yes.

So the suit is not about rules. Everyone is already under the same rules albeit the commercials have to have someone looking over their shoulder for a fee because they failed to live up to the original agreement that gave them permissions no other commercial fishermen from any other state enjoy.

Finally the lawsuit seeks an "end game". A day when commercial fishermen don't have to worry about turtles interacting with their nets. Any logical person realizes that day can never come. Turtles and entanglement nets don't mix and the day will never come when we have so many turtles that killing them without concerns in gillnets will be ok. Anyone who thinks that is possible is again not being logical.

Finally...would some reporter simply take the time to ask the DMF if we even need to set these nets for southern flounder when pound nets are available to do so without the known turtle mortality associated with gillnets. A simple...."could pound nets alone, in a full annual season catch all the southern flounder poundage allowed under the Fishery Management Plan?"

If recreational anglers were mandated to use circle hooks with natural bait some turtles would be saved. If commercial fishermen were banned in NC from using large mesh gillnets in coastal waters as all other east coast states have done then an awful lot more turtles would be saved.

But the current rules of interaction are already the same on everyone in NC. The reporting rules used to be, but the commercials saw the rule changed on them because they failed to comply with the agreement they made.

Also, why has no other environmental or conservation group, anywhere, ever asked the recreational fishery to be shut down over turtles?

The answer is simple....this is not about turtles or conservation, it is about continued use of the second biggest killer of turtles in the water. Gillnets. Trawls are first, but that is another story for another day.

Ray Brown says: "Studies

Ray Brown says:
"Studies have shown that commercial fishing nets cause more interactions with turtles per hour of use than recreational fish hooks"....... and on and on and on adnauseum.'....

Pretty obvious Ray, but there are a whole lot more hooks than nets. So should me merely disregard the interactions with hooks?

Wasn't aware sea turtles bit

Wasn't aware sea turtles bit hooks. I've never caught one, anyway.

Take a look through the

Take a look through the patient index and you'll see that quite a few turtles have been injured by hooks and line.

Who has?

No one has disregarded these hooks. The laws on reporting are the same as on nets.

The DMF has observed recreational activities and found interactions so rare with hooks in sovereign waters that they felt it was if ni value to continue monitoring. Those comments are in the minutes of the last or next to last MFC meeting.

All other states have banned these nets. Mississippi does allow them in some restricted areas for about six weeks per year, but that is it. We have historically allowed them year round and until recently 24/7 in some waters.

Numerous times recommendations have been made by recreational anglers to the MFC to require circle hooks when live bait is used by recreational fishermen. The MFC has rejected that each time saying the saving of turtles would be so small it is not necessary. There is a good place for you to focus some effort for change. I have advocated that for years.

But if you really want to save turtles. Reallocate the southern flounder fishery back to the historical poundnet fishery. Taking these gillnets out like other states have done will save many, many more.

Worldwide, trawlers kill more turtles than any other gear, even with TEDS in place. If this is really about turtles, why aren't you concerned that trawlers in our waters are not observed on a regular basis? I would have thought the greatest statistical harm would interest you the most.

Circle hooks and pound nets only and we can all go home. Fishing continues and turtle mortality goes down. That is what you want? Right?

Ray, You and yours are the

You and yours are the group responsible for opening this can of worms. I think you'll get what you want eventually. The only question is will there be unintended consequences. Where there's no inshore netting, look who they (the folks you've invited) go after next.

sea turtles

Shouldn't conservation laws apply to everyone?

To any clear thinking

To any clear thinking individual, yes.

As mentioned above~~ the

As mentioned above~~ the rules are the same for everyone. The sticking point is the commercial people do not follow the rules and want everyone to pay for their violation. It is true, the gill nets have been outlawed for this type of fishing by every other state in the region except MS. Also, the same people that cannot follow the rules will be in charge of wasting the excess funds being collected.

This lawsuit is nothing more

This lawsuit is nothing more than a petulant hissy fit by the commercial lobbyist to implement a "Scorched Earth" policy of "if we can't have our way, then no one will fish". 800,000 recreational fishermen catch very few sea turtles in this state, and that can easily be remedied by implementing mandatory use of circle hooks when live bait fishing. Now look at the gill net and trawl industry, which is comprised of only a couple of thousand folks statewide, who take thousands upon thousands of sea turtles each year and then gripe about the potential of having their federal Incidental Take Permit yanked because the netters refuse to allow observers on board their vessels (mandated as a condition of the Incidental Take Permit) to see exactly how many turtles they are killing. This is the same bunch that refuses to negotiate on anything, telling the Marine Fisheries Commission and the recreational sector that they won't give up "one damn shrimp". Face it... non-selective, destructive gear and wasteful practices do not support a sustainable fishery. It is time to follow all of the other east coast and gulf coast states by getting them out of our estuarine nurseries. Ask yourself why SC has so much better fishing than we do. Why stop there. Ask yourself why every state south of us, all the way to Texas has better fishing than us.

you are right on, NC is one

you are right on, NC is one of the last states to allow dragging and netting in the very area's these fish and shrimp raise, it needs to stop now, the comms will not allow observers on their boat, what do they not want seen, all those juvenile flounder, black bass, grouper, triggerfish, croakers, spots, trout, and tiny tiny shrimp that are not even big enough to even use for bait, dead, and for what????

If these guys want to shrimp, let them bait them and throw a cast net for them, works every where else, these so called comms are part time fishermen at best, and they work for cash only, the ones that drag the waterways, cash only, no tax's, while the recreational guy puts ten times the money into the economy, it's time to end their destructive practices, enough!

Commercial fishing

I know many hard working honest commercial fishermen. They have so many regulations to deal with they are slowly being put out of business. So let me ask you do you want your fish/shrimp farm raised in Asia and shipped here or do you want your neighbor catching it and contributing to the economy by selling it at a fish house or local restraunts?

Would it not be stupid to

Would it not be stupid to support those that filed a lawsuit against us? Is that what neighbors do?
Already about 80% of sea food is imported in the US. Most NC sea food is sent north for higher prices.
The 'neighbor' contributes far less, very far less, than the recreational fisherman contributes to the NC economy.
Neighbors like these do not deserve support.

Commercial fishermen want to ban recs for greed

The Commercial fisherman's union filed a lawsuit against all recreational fishermen and boaters yesterday. I think we now know who put these signs up as that is exactly what they are trying to do. Folks, they want it all for themselves, the resource be damned! Send a strong message to the Governor and to other legislators that these are the resources of the people of North Carolina not just a few greedy commercial fishermen and fish houses!!!! NCFA and NC Commercial are so arrogant that they want to jeopardize a 1.9billion recreational fishing industry to save a 4.5 million dollar gill net fishery. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!!

This is number #4 on page 19 of the lawsuit, "Enjoin Defendants from allowing the ongoing operation of the recreational hook and line fishery until such time as an incidental take permit is issued."
That means to close the recreational fishery until the ITP is issued.

FOLKS, it may be time to stop buying NC seafood. WHY WOULD YOU BUY FROM THOSE SUING YOU?

Just a little deeper into

Just a little deeper into the suit and the commercials want ALL boats off the water except theirs of course. Since only commercials have permission to kill endangered turtles by any method they want to be sure no one but a commercial fisherman hits one with a boat.
Who would be impacted besides the boaters? Marinas, boat repair facilities, boat sales companies, fuel sales, restaurant sales, motel rentals, beach rentals, real estate sales, tackle shops, and the list goes on and on. All this for a few part time gill netters attempting to get around turtle protections. Now that any charges can be sent to federal court instead of to local judges they file suit. Why are NC commercial fishermen so afraid of law enforcement?

Have you actually read the lawsuit?

They are not suing over boats hitting turtles. They are suing to have the federal government apply the ESA equally to the recs which they claim have similar numbers of interactions with sea turtles. The lawsuit claims the number of recreational interactions is supported by data developed by the feds themselves but the feds have ignored that data. The lawsuit asks for a stock assessment to see if turtles actually need strict regulations imposed by the feds. If it is determined they do, it seems to me, all they are asking for is that recs have to abide by the same regulations until sea turtles are removed from the list.


The rant was incomplete. There are many outside the commercial sector that know it is not about turtles. Maybe another station will report honestly.