By Jerry Schill
January 28, 2020
As many readers may know, NCFA worked with our General Assembly after Hurricane Florence in 2018 to provide financial assistance to commercial fishermen affected by the hurricane and we sincerely appreciated the help provided to many families as the result.
What’s been unfortunate, but not surprising, is the criticism coming from the Coastal Conservation Association, (CCA-NC), in its fall newsletter in an article “Storm payouts scrutinized”. In these fish battles of late anything NCFA does on behalf of commercial fishermen is looked upon in a negative light by the CCA, even if we have a prayer breakfast as per another article in the same issue. (“Laughridge reflects on MFC; thinks fisheries future bleak”.)
When working with the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) to come up with a formula to help fishermen with the hurricane assistance, it was decided to use quantifiable landings data associated with our state’s trip ticket program. We decided against using any plan that relied on data that could not be quantified to avoid any hanky panky, whether real or perceived.
The bottom line for the article is really sour grapes. The fact is we came up with a plan to help commercial fishermen that were economically harmed by the hurricane and the recreational industry didn’t. Maybe the CCA didn’t do it because they couldn’t come up with a quantifiable method like we could. That’s a legitimate reason, but why then criticize NCFA and commercial fishermen for doing it? Comparing apples to apples, those seafood entities that suffered substantial losses from the hurricane to docks, buildings, freezers, etc., didn’t receive a dime for those losses either outside of their possible insurance coverage. They are still waiting for federal assistance. That aid has been approved but the criteria has not yet been determined. In this case the commercial and recreational fishing entities are in the same predicament.
CCA Executive Director David Sneed was quoted in the article: “The response on why there was no hurricane relief money for the recreational industry has always been ‘because they didn’t ask for any”.
Well, that’s the way things usually work!
The author of the article, Rip Woodin, CCA-NC Editor, goes on to say: “Commercial fishermen went to Raleigh and demanded state assistance…” Hyperbole at its finest. NCFA respectfully asked for help and demanded nothing.
In another article, same issue, former Division of Marine Fisheries Director Louis Daniel extols the virtues of the “Let them Spawn” bill, which passed the House last year and is now in the Senate Rules Committee. Daniel is now with the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, which has shown no love for commercial fishing families. I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that if Louis Daniel hadn’t gotten fired from the Division, he would be opposed to the “Let them Spawn” bill. What we need in fisheries are decisions based upon science, not on who is paying our salary.
As for the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, not long ago Robin Hayes, former North Carolina G.O.P. Chairman, was listed as a “special advisor”.
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