Committees recommend against new shrimp trawling restrictions

Posted January 17
Updated January 19

— Advisory committees to the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission on Tuesday recommended against a petition to restrict shrimp trawlers operating in coastal sounds after hearing from hundreds of commercial fishermen.

The North Carolina Wildlife Federation had petitioned the state – the only one on the East Coast that allows shrimp trawling in its sounds and estuaries – to reduce the size of trawler nets, limit how long nets could be pulled in the water, permit shrimping only three days per week and eliminate night-time shrimping.

An estimated 1,000 people attended a meeting in New Bern Tuesday to be heard on the proposition.

"We’re losing hundreds of millions of juvenile fish to shrimp trawling," said David Knight, a policy consultant for the Wildlife Federation. "These waters are public resource waters, and they are open for all the citizens. Right now, the citizens are not being able to benefit from the waters because the shrimp trawling is taking all the juvenile fish."

Commercial fishermen said, however, that stricter regulations could take them out of the water instead.

"I'd have to find another job, but not much jobs where we're from," said Vernon Guthrie, a commercial fisherman from the tiny community of Davis along Core Sound. "(Being a) commercial fisherman is our livelihood, what we know, what we've done our whole life."

Guthrie, 60, started plying North Carolina's coastal waters almost five decades ago with his grandfather. He said he rarely catches fish in his shrimp nets.

"It ain’t right. They talk about creating jobs, but they're trying to put us out of work as hard they can so people can play," he said. "Everybody loves seafood, but they want to put us out of business. I don’t understand it."

"There’s enough fish for everybody," said Johnny Flowers, 64, a commercial fisherman from Swan Quarter. "My whole life depends on the water. I’ve been doing this for 37 years, and this is it."

Knight denied proponents of the rules are trying to put Flowers, Guthrie and others out of business.

"This is a science-based petition that’s trying to be as fair as possible," he said. "It’s nowhere near a ban on shrimp trawling like they’re saying. That’s just untrue."

Aundrea O’Neal, who works at a fish house in Beaufort, said commercial fishermen wouldn't be the only people affected by a drop in shrimping, noting it plays a vital role in the coastal economy.

"The fuel man, the grocery store, even right down to McDonald's, it's a domino effect," O'Neal said, noting her business sold 31,000 gallons of fuel for shrimp boats in the past week alone.

The Wildlife Federation and recreational fishermen are misguided in targeting shrimpers in their conservation efforts, she said.

"What they don’t realize are the fisherman are the most conservative. They’ve done it for years. They want to pass it down. It’s their heritage," she said.

A final decision by the Marine Fisheries Commission is expected next month.


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  • Alfred Barnes Jan 20, 2017
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    Why are the advisory committees recommending against regulations?

  • Stephen Batchelor Jan 19, 2017
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    Republican Control = Science Deniers. I guess once the sounds are fished out, then we can move on to bigger things, like learning how to completely surround our coastline with gill nets.

  • Anna Temple Jan 19, 2017
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    It is quiet possible that the Lord will provide us another Earth. And
    "He blessed them all and told the creatures that live in the water to reproduce and to fill the sea, and he told the birds to increase in number. 23 Evening passed and morning came—that was the fifth day." Hopefully we will allow the creatures their ability to reproduce, but you never know....

  • Anna Temple Jan 19, 2017
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    We can exploit the estuaries and ecosystems until they are overcome and then we can move to Mars. I dont see what all the fuss is about.

  • William Price Jan 19, 2017
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    but everyone forgets "its their livelihood and how they feed their family" even though 99% of the have full time employment elsewhere..... corrupt politicians need to go.... the netting and raping of our waters needs to stop.... the only state on the eastern seaboard to still allow this....

  • Jeff Freuler Jan 18, 2017
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    I hate to hear this however, I'm not at all surprised. It's interesting how NC is the only state that allows this. Goes to show how far behind we are and how corrupt the board is. This has been known for YEARS

  • Benjamin Kite Jan 18, 2017
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    Under Democrat rule Science > Commerce. Under Republican rule, Commerce > Science.

  • Lance Cotten Jan 18, 2017
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    I agree with the fact their should be no shrimping in the sounds period... why are we the only state on the east coast that allows it? How do the commercial fisherman in neighboring states get by and make a living where they can't trawl? Do they come down to NC waters too??

  • Paul Gemborys Jr Jan 18, 2017
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    Glad to see this decision.

  • Ed Livesay Jan 17, 2017
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    I've seen these guys at work.... resistance is futile..... their methods are clearly a wall to wall, ceiling to floor sweep of the body of water, leaving nothing. This new regulation series is a realistic necessity.