Why does NCFA Oppose HB 867?
Put simply, HB 867’s vague language leaves many management requirements open to the individual interpretation of sitting Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) members.
By turning over the interpretation to the MFC, the General Assembly would make it extremely difficult to achieve consistent management of the resource because up to three new commission members can be appointed each year. Constant change and turnover within the commission will make an already highly regulated industry and resource even more difficult to manage and for fishermen to earn a living.
Why you should say NO to HB 867:
- Shifts taxpayer dollars from the general fund to buy out negatively affected commercial license holders – revealing the true intent of the bill.
- Removes the checks and balances that were written into the Fisheries Reform Act to assure proper management.
- Diminishes the importance of seafood production and recreational opportunity to the states coastal fisheries.
- Changes the management goal from “managing for sustainable harvest” – which assured NC recreational AND commercial fishermen would be able to harvest the resource for food – to “conservation.” That change threatens NC citizen’s access to fresh and local seafood.
- Requires that “allocation decisions shall be based upon the best available sociological economic and other information deemed relevant by the commission” – these provisions give the commission authority to pass the “Game Fish Bill” that the legislature wisely let die in 2013.
- Empowers the Fisheries Director to enter into a joint endeavor agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service which previously has been repeatedly declined by the General Assembly.
- Eliminates the Fishery Management Plan’s Advisory Committees, which include recreational fishermen, commercial fishermen and scientists.
- Prescribes that the MFC work to eliminate bycatch (any species that is not targeted), even when bycatch is a species that can be sold and consumed (for example, red drum and striped bass fisheries are commercial bycatch fisheries).
- Contains benchmarks for management success that are confusing, even for the experts.
- Increases state regulations on fisheries beyond those of the federal government – at a time when most industries are experiencing deregulation.
What everyone needs to know:
HB 867 is not an “economic bill” as it is being disguised. This bill is a poor rewrite of the Fishery Reform Act of 1997 – a bill that took two years to formulate with open stakeholder input. This new bill has been pulled together in a few short weeks without open stakeholder input from commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen or scientists.
For the past 20 years, North Carolina has been able to maintain its traditional inshore gillnet and shrimp trawl fisheries and has continued to boast a recreational fishery with the second highest landings in the country. This is not by accident. But it is however a testament to the success of the current stakeholder-formulated fishery management process, also known as the Fisheries Reform Act of 1997.
HB 867 is a bad bill that will move North Carolina’s fisheries in the wrong direction and threaten access to fresh and local seafood.