In response to a rash of massive striped bass kills along the coast, CCA North Carolina requested the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) to eliminate trawling for striped bass.
On January 20 hundreds of dead striper, culled by trawlers, were found in N.C. state waters. In response, the MFC changed the commercial regulations to allow 2,000 pounds of stripers per trip, instead of 50 fish. The reasoning was the weight regulation would eliminate culling and discarding the smaller fish. But the MFC also allowed transferring stripers boat to boat on the water. So when the commercial season reopened a couple of days later, the immediate result was yet another dumping of excess striped bass. Trawlers simply captured too many to land at 2,000 pounds per boat, and the excess were discarded once again.
This second incident prompted CCA to request and end to trawling. The MFC's response at their Feb. 10-11 meeting was to reopen the commercial fishery a second time for trawlers, since the commercial quota had still not been landed. But this time trawling will be restricted to weekdays to "reduce interaction with recreational fishermen" - meaning recreational fishermen won't be around to see stripers get dumped again, should that happen.
"Everyone is in an uproar over this," says state CCA president Jim Hardin. "We have an MFC that is managing the fishery for commercial fishermen."
The NC Fisheries Association's response to the recent fish kills wasn't about the waste of striped bass, but rather a complaint that they are not allowed to net in federal waters. "The federal government obstinately refuses to allow an increase on commercial quota or any percentage rollover, and the EEZ is still closed. These boats wouldn't be anywhere near these recreational boats who were taking all the videos if they didn't have to stay within three miles." stated its director.
The CCA plans to continue to push for a more balanced management approach by eliminating trawl nets and instituting a hook-and-line gear requirement, which is much more controllable and can eliminate waste.
"The MFC has an obligation to responsibly manage these resources," said Jay Dail, Chairman of the CCA NC. "Allowing a fishery to dump thousands of dead stripers over the side as a regular course of doing business is not responsible management. At the very least, the Commission should immediately outlaw the use of indiscriminate, highly destructive trawls in state waters in favor of more selective gear."
For more information: www.ccanc.org
The following video was posted by a North Carolina angler last month on YouTube: