Legislative News

By Jerry Schill

September 14, 2020

Fishing education, that is!

We have a rather important election coming up in November! If this statement is surprising to you, we’ll assume you just woke up after a very long sleep! We’ll be voting for President/Vice President, Governor, Lt. Governor, a US Senator, US Congress, NC Supreme Court Chief Justice & 2 Associate Justices, Council of State, all members of the North Carolina Senate and House and some other local races. In some of those contests things could remain the same but with others we know there will be some changes due to current office holders deciding not to run again. Some of those who are not running again decided months ago so their names will not be on the ballot, while others decided recently and it may be too late for their name to be removed.

There have been some deaths of General Assembly members since the last election. In addition, quite a few others have decided not to return so there are several open seats. Regardless of who wins in those seats the winner will be new to the Senate or House.

The time between the November election and when the General Assembly convenes for the long session will be a very busy one for NCFA. That’s when we revise the contact list for the Senate and House in preparation for the upcoming session. At the very least a letter and/or phone call to those newly elected will be made and eventually a personal visit when possible.

We’ve already been warned that the “Let Them Spawn” bill will be introduced again and the North Carolina Wildlife Federation and others have been working on an effort to combine Marine Fisheries with Wildlife Resources.

For those of you who have been involved in commercial fishing all your lives, it may be hard to understand that there are those who don’t have the slightest clue about what you do. You may think it’s only those who are elected from inland that are clueless. That would be an incorrect assumption! Sure, there are some legislators who are fairly well versed in the issues, but most are not. Allow me to mention another incorrect assumption. That’s when legislators from the west think all coastal elected officials know more than they do about coastal issues, specifically about how a commercial fisherman feeds his/her family. There’s nothing wrong with any of this as nobody can be expected to know everything about their district. The point here is the burden we have to educate, not just those from the west but our coastal folks as well.

Even those who know fishing issues well within their own district may not know much about what the issues are in other coastal counties.

Looking at it another way, coastal folks probably won’t know much about the issues facing dairy farmers, yet they may be voting on legislation that will affect those folks. Bottom line is, it ain’t easy and the learning curve is high for all of them. Dairy farmers rightfully expect legislators to know their issues before voting on any bill that will affect their way of life. That’s a particular burden on coastal and other legislators who know little or nothing about dairy. Likewise, it’s incumbent upon legislators to know fishing issues before voting on a bill that affects commercial fishing families. That puts the burden, or responsibility, on us to educate. We know all fishing, whether it be commercial, for-hire or recreational, is vitally important to our state. If any part of it disintegrates, so goes the coastal economy.

Education, Education, Education!

Whether the issue is dairy farming or commercial fishing, there’s a lot of educating to be done. It’s not just an issue that’s important to those who make their living in those occupations, but critically vital in the minds of consumers!

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