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CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Commercial fishing is a $180 million industry in North Carolina. Now a bill in the state House could filet a chunk of commercial fishing and turn it over to recreational anglers.

Both recreational and commercial fishermen agree that North Carolina’s coastal fisheries are a precious natural resource that need to be protected, but House Bill 983 would seek to eliminate commercial fishermen from catching red drum, spotted trout and sea bass, and they say that would severely limit the way that they make a living.

“Commercial fishermen and recreational fishermen both want to protect the species. If we don’t have any fish to catch, there is no value in the fish,” commercial fisherman Joe Romano said. “If people go fishing and they can’t catch any fish, no one wants that. When you drive bills like this that literally divide people apart, you’re making the situation worse.”

Under HB 983, also known as the 2013 Fisheries Economic Development Act, commercial fishermen would be compensated for the financial loss they suffer from the new restrictions. Romano says this is a fishy situation.

“Right now there is a law on the books that says that we have to treat recreational and commercial fishermen the same way in the protection of the species. That’s why we have the Division of Marine Fisheries,” Romano said. “That’s why we’ve hired scientists to study the species, and so now by letting politicians determine how a fish will be used for the public good, that’s a dangerous precedent.”

The professionals don’t plan to go down without a fight. Some traveled to Raleigh Monday to spawn protest the bill.

If passed the bill would also increase the cost of coastal recreational fishing licenses to pay for inlet dredging.


Comment on this Story

  • Your Absolutely Right.

    Big Government is in.
    Republican Party Members in NC House, Senate, and now the NC Executive Mansion (Gov) pass laws in a manner which reflects the values of some hard core Democrats.

    North Carolina needs deregulation in order to repair itself from all the damage done by bureaucratic red tape.
    Especially in the Fishing Industry.

    The Larger the Regulatory Agencies get the more regulations will be passed. NC Fisherman are struggling as it is, recreational fisherman can’t hardly keep anything they catch to take home to cook.

    They Claim the Boat tax is to aid in paying for (Dredging the Channels) but the Dredging is for Large Vessel traffic, not Smaller vessels which are majority commercial and recreational fisherman. (The ones paying all the fee’s)

    We think this has more to do with Port development at Morehead City than anything. Planning for a new port terminal on Radio Island, etc.

    Basically.. Tax all the fisherman to finance the dredging for Huge Ships. We already fought PCS Phosphate from building a Sulfur processing plant in Morehead City. But we think this game isn’t over yet.

    That would inevitably destroy the entire fishing habitat within the Area due to Sulfur Dioxide emissions.

    It seems the Increase in Regulatory fee’s across the board for the entire fishing industry is aimed at financing something outside of fishing and tourism.

    Our Company is having a heck of a time fighting regulators, and finding out who is calling the shots.
    No one wants to talk, and everyone is hiding information.

    Here is our Recent Letter to Pat McCrory regarding some new Regulations which will effect Fisherman in our Area.

    We also sent this to Congressman Jones who has been a great help on a Federal level for NC fisherman both Commercial and Recreational.


    Thanks for Reading Bud,
    Mark A. Bartholomew, Managing Director
    Newport River Company


    Have you noticed any improvements to the boat landing? Boating fees and fishing license revenues.

  • Guesty1234

    Thanks for the BOAT TAX Republicrats! I thought the GOP were for lower taxes and smaller government. Seems awlfully unfair to TAX all boat owners for dredging given the fact that many will not or do not even exit an inlet??

    Why is this BOAT TAX being tied to a fishing Bill anyway?

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