A letter from Dean Phillips of the Coastal Fisheries Reform Group. For more info go to www.cfrgnc.blogspot.com
Dear Saltwater Angler,
Joe Albea and I attended the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission meeting in Pine Knoll Shores, NC yesterday and today. On the agenda were the issues of the Striped Bass harvest by Trawl, and the closure of the Speckled Trout Fishery. As you know, thousands of Stripers were publicly wasted in the last few weeks, and we have eyewitness accounts from well respected charter captains to these events. Even with all the photos, video, and outcry from other Atlantic coastal states, our Marine Fisheries Commissioners voted today to continue this wasteful practice of trawling for stripers, and will continue to do so until the final 60,000 pounds of their quota is reached. Conservation groups were dumbfounded at this move today. Unbelievable!
But wait, it gets even better! When the topic of the Speckled Trout closure came up for discussion, we requested that they keep the harvest of Speckled Trout closed thru the summer so the larger fish would be given plenty of time to spawn. Since mature females will spawn every 4 to 6 days starting in May and continuing throughout the summer, this would be our best recipe for maximum spawning success. DMF staff recommended ending the closure on June 15, which according to them, would get the fish through the most intense spawning weeks of May and June. We would have been fine with that. No harvest for anyone until June 15, but that is where our commercially run MFC stepped in.
Commissioner Bradley Styron, fish house owner and dealer, pushed through a motion to let commercial gill netters catch and sell 50 pounds of Speckled Trout per day, as long as those trout equaled only 10% of the other fish caught by the fisherman. This will go into effect this week! So here we go again with paying folks to have accidents! We already know how that is working out with our Red Drum don't we? We would never have recommended a closure of the trout harvest for recreational fishermen if we had known that they would still allow the harvest and sale of trout by commercial gill netters! This is wrong, and it is unfair!
If there was ever any doubt in your mind why we MUST have game fish protection for Speckled Trout, I hope this incident has resolved all of those issues for you! As long as Speckled Trout remain a commercial fish, this tug of war will be never ending. It must end now! The only answer is GAME FISH status for Speckled Trout, Red Drum, and Striped Bass!
Our commercially run, money hungry, corrupt MFC has crossed the line for the final time!
Please stay tuned, and please forward this to anyone you know who cares for our coastal fisheries.
Coastal Fisheries Reform Group