Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

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Fishing Battle – NC bill to designate ‘game fish’ splits anglers

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – A bill that would ban the sale of three
kinds of coastal fish in North Carolina is pitting commercial
fishermen against recreational anglers.

The StarNews of Wilmington reported Saturday that the bill would
designate red drum, spotted sea trout and striped bass as coastal
game fish and require those species be taken by hook and line
fishing only.

The bill gives commercial fishermen some relief by having the
state pay them what they would have made off those fish for three
years, up to $1 million each. Sean McKeon, president of the
professional trade association for commercial fishing, North
Carolina Fisheries Association, said there are 4,000 to 5,000
commercial fishermen in North Carolina.

It wasn’t clear how much the compensation program might

The goal of the bill would be the preservation of the species,
but the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries opposes the

Agency director Louis Daniel said game fish status would give
the recreational fishermen preference over commercial ones. The
fish also would not be available in restaurants or markets.

“It’s not just a recreational/commercial thing,” Daniel said.
“It’s a consumer thing, too.”

Stephen Ammons, executive director of the Coastal Conservation
Association’s North Carolina chapter, said his group supports the
measure as a way to keep the fisheries healthy and viable and to
bring more recreational fishermen to the state.

Ammons said the three species make up just a small part of
commercial catches in North Carolina.

And he noted that recreational fishermen also bring in dollars
to the North Carolina economy.

McKeon said he doesn’t think recreational fishing suffers
because the fish are open to commercial fishing, but he said a
commercial prohibition on those fish will hurt businesses.

“What kind of a person would put another man out of work and
harm his family so that he could have more fun?” McKeon said.

Joseph J. Smith Jr., the owner of Atlantic Seafood in Hampstead
and a member of the state Marine Fisheries Commission, said the
industry already is hurting because of regulations.

“Those fish don’t belong to just one group of people,” Smith
said. “They don’t belong to commercial or recreational. No one can
take possession of those fish. That’s wrong.”


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