Proud to be a Commercial Fisherman
Commercial fishermen have many things to be proud of, but the Seafood Lobby Day on June 14th at the General Assembly in Raleigh has to be one of the finest. More than 200 fishermen and families along with county delegates from all over the state gathered at the State Capital for the event due to the many legislative issues introduced, both good and bad, for the industry this session.
NCFA, along with Carteret County Fisherman’s Association, Brunswick County Fishermen’s Association and NC Watermen United arranged buses for the trip to Raleigh. There has been a lot happening in the Raleigh arena dealing with HB 867 in which the CCA and its new partner, NC Sound Economy, put forth a huge effort to get the bill passed. Realizing that if HB 867 passed it would destroy commercial fishermen and their communities, multitudes of fishermen traveled to Raleigh, gave up a day’s pay and were united in solidarity by the “Kill HB867” t-shirt and a multitude of posters in support of the Fisheries Reform Act of 1997 as they walked the halls and picketed outside. Fishermen took time with legislators to explain the truth about the status of fisheries in North Carolina and how the FRA has made North Carolina where we are today.
I would like to give a personal thanks to the hospitality extended by Rep. Michael Speciale and his Legislative Assistant, Hazel Speciale, for arranging the room for us to assemble. Thanks also to Rep. Speciale, Rep. Beverly Boswell, Rep. Larry Pittman, Rep. Mike Clampitt,Senator Norman Sanderson and Rep. Bill Cook for their words of welcome and encouragement as we arrived.
Also appreciated Mr. Mitch Gillespie from the Speaker’s office meeting with us to give an overview of HB-867 and some suggested changes to the legislation.
Seafood Lobby Day was a great success with one of the highlights being fishermen filling the halls and offices of the House and Senate. In my eyes though, the brightest highlight had to be when we were notified by one of our legislators that the folks in charge of security at the General Assembly told him that our group had been the most polite, courteous and respectful they have ever experienced, especially considering the size of our group. At the end of the day, I had a great feeling of accomplishment and success. I sure hope that each and every fisherman that attended left with that same feeling.
The Legislative session is not completely over and there are still a few issues in play. Jerry Schill, Glenn Skinner and Mike Blanton have spent many hours in Raleigh staying on top of these and other bills as they have progressed forward and will continue until all issues are handled. As Chairman of NCFA, there is no doubt in my mind that we have a great team assembled.
I encourage all members to feel free to contact Glenn, Jerry, David, or myself at any time to discuss any fisheries issues where we can be of assistance.