Commercial Fishing Threatened (again)
New assault on commercial fishermen
In 1994, commercial fishermen in North Carolina were casting a wary eye on the development of the Fisheries Reform Act. Asked what they wanted for the industry, the common reply of fishermen was fairness, defensible science and, most of all, water quality and habitat protection plans.
Instead, the new laws and regulations passed in 2013 and 2014 are weakening environmental regulations, reducing enforcement and cutting numbers of research staff in North Carolina. Much of the language in the new legislation has been written with the help of the lobbyists and industry representatives who are against environmental regulations.
Now courting the commercial fishing industry’s vote, some Republicans are promising to eliminate regulations. A substantial number of the laws that are unfair and causing hardship on fishermen are coming out of federal fishery management councils which are not controlled by the state although state fisheries managers must enforce them or risk closure of fishing for certain species.
In addition to a lack of understanding of how fisheries management works and the politics involved, those advocating abolishing fisheries rules also want to do away with environmental regulations.
If the water and habitat are not protected and enhanced, the death knell will be felt by fishermen because it will severely impact species that rely on clean water and sufficient habitat to spawn and live.
To protect the industry, the State of North Carolina should insist on clean data, defensible science and get the politics out of management decisions.