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North Carolina Commercial Fishing Industry Taking a Spill

Posted October 7, 2007
Updated October 8, 2007

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— The North Carolina Seafood Festival wrapped up Sunday night in Morehead City. A popular topic of conversation among festival-goers was commercial fishing in the state.

Cheaper imports, inexpensive foreign labor and consumers looking for a deal are taking a toll on the industry.

Bradley Styrons owns a small fish-house in Cedar Island.

"l buy fish, shrimp, clams, whatever comes in," Styrons said. He added, however, that  not much comes in these days.

"What used to be a fairly good way of making a living has disappeared," he said.

Styrons puts part of the fault on hurricanes devastating the coast, but mostly he blames foreign competition for devastating fair trade.

"We're trying to compete globally, where we can't compete. We can't compete with Third World countries shipping seafood in here," he said.

North Carolina is in a five-year downward spiral when it comes to commercial fishing. Low prices for catch and increased regulations keep many fishing boats at the dock.

"The number of trips the fishermen are taking is down, and the landings are way down," Patricia Smith, with the North Carolina Marine Fisheries, said.

"A lot of people have had to get out and go find other employment," Styrons said.

"People are holding on to their licenses and what we're hearing is they are hoping they can come back at some point. They've been through bad times before, and they hope they can come back," Smith said.

But hope does not pay the bills, and it will take more than a good day on the water for the local industry to survive.

"The country has to decide, what do they want? Do they want in 10 years to be totally dependent on third world countries? Or do they want a viable industry in this country? That's the decision that has to be made. And we're running out of time," Styrons said.


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  • NC is my home Oct 9, 2007

    There is nothing finer than fresh seafood from the coast of Carolina! I hope all of our fishermen and those in the industry much success. Their product is far superior than that coming from a long distance.

  • Dieselman Oct 9, 2007

    Like someone said earlier we are all to blame in our endless quest for the lowest price. The seafood industry is just the latest. The only way for any of us to be heard is with our dollars. If we don't buy cheap products you will see changes but that will never happen because everyone is looking for a "deal".

  • Hammerhead Oct 9, 2007

    Moreupset, I didn't say I agreed with that either, that should be done with donations. Lots of people in the US starving/freezing/etc. On the other hand, I hate welfare abuse and overpopulation ( having babies when one can ill-afford it ).
    Now then, what about my war comment? How much better could that money be spent?

  • dlb800 Oct 9, 2007

    Look, as long as businesses (even fishing) are going to be taxed
    so high, jobs ARE going to be moving overseas. Companies
    have to compete globally, or they aren't going to survive, so
    they move jobs overseas to be able to compete.

    You don't like that, then tell your legislature to quit taxing
    everything they can get their hands on!

    Simple example...take a car company in the US and a car company
    in Spain. Let's say they produce the same exact type of car,
    both type and quality. The company from Spain sells 5,000 in Spain and 5,000 in the US. The US taxes those 5,000 cars, and Spain taxes the other 5,000 cars. The US company sells 5,000 in Spain, and 5,000 in the US. Spain taxes the US company for the 5,000 cars sold in Spain, and the US taxes the US company for all 10,000 cars. Hmmm.. now who can afford to charge less for the cars? The US company, or the Spain company?

    It's our OWN fault that jobs are moving overseas.

  • 1Moms_View Oct 8, 2007

    Kingfish is correct. The issues creating hardships for commercial fisherman now were started prior to Bush's administration. I know because we were dealing with the beginnings of the current headaches back in the early-mid 1990s. Increased regulations and fees greatly impacted the commercial fishing industry in this state.

    We eventually sold out and moved inland. Had we not needed to move closer to family members because of poor health with a couple of them, hubby might still be in the business. We did OK at the time, but friends still fishing say it's getting harder and harder now.

  • moreupset Oct 8, 2007

    How much of our taxes go to feed persons in third world countries?

  • Slip Kid Oct 8, 2007

    "I wonder why some of the posters think that anything that is not "good" in their opinion came from the libs??? Do they not realize that most of it is coming from George Bush?" - previous post.

    Why do some many people think our president has much of ANYTHING to do with typical commerce? Our president does not spend one dollar or pass any laws - CONGRESS does all of that. It amazes me how some people put so much (or little!) thought into their vote for president then vote like idiots for their senators and representatives. Bush got us into Iraq but has nothing to do with the current fishing status (thank the Clinton years if you must link to a president).

    Anyway, commercial fishing will be regulated out of business in this country soon enough - and it won't be 'good intention' catch limits, just bs rules, regulations and related fees!

  • Hammerhead Oct 8, 2007

    moreupset, how much our taxes goes to fight useless wars?

  • doodad Oct 8, 2007

    When will consumers wake up and realize that they are in control?

    The NC Marine As. needs to take lessons from the American Angus Asociation. "Certified Angus Beef" is a label introduced by the American Angus Asociation for marketing purposes and has proven to show that most resturants and consumers prefer Certified Angus Beef. By the way, most of the beef you eat is produced in the US except for a small amount imported by fast food chains.

    North Carolina needs to support our local fishing industry. Wal-Mart stinks, and is selling you USDA Grade Select beef at USDA Choice beef prices. ( beef grades: #1 Prime/#2 Choice/#3 Select) A choice grade carcass is worth more per pound than a select carcass. I know this is about seafood, but I detest Wal-Mart and I am quite certain that they are selling imported seafood.

    I know that I spelled asociation wrong.

  • moreupset Oct 8, 2007

    If the Federal and State governments would stop taxing us to death we might survive! How much of our tax dollars go to other countries? Feed us first! Do you think fishermen in third world countries have to buy licenses? I have to buy one to fish in a pond!