By Brent Fulcher
February 17, 2021
A post on social media was recently forwarded to me. It was written by an individual who frequently complains about commercial fishing generally and has aimed his barbs at me personally. His recent vent is railing about the commercial fishing industry, the regulatory agencies, environmental groups and even our universities. According to him, all these groups are guilty of having an unhealthy and deeply conflicted relationship which has clouded their vision. He actually calls it an “incestuous relationship”!
Over the years our industry has participated with fisheries managers at the state and federal levels, and academia, including the North Carolina Sea Grant program, to address a number of issues, but most notably the reduction of bycatch. That research involved a number of different fisheries and gears including crab pots, gillnets and trawls. My company has been very involved in the reduction of bycatch for the shrimp trawl fishery. In looking at those efforts from the late 1980s until now, that cooperative research has resulted in a tremendous reduction of bycatch in that fishery, reductions that could not have been realized without the cooperation of academia, regulators and the private sector. Yet, rather than reading about the positives of such efforts, this individual and the organizations he lauds such as the Coastal Conservation Association, Fisheries Reform Group and the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, continue their relentless attack on commercial fishing families.
There’s no doubt in my mind that this latest volley comes during the same week as the convening of our General Assembly in Raleigh. The question one needs to ask is, why? Why, with the commercial fishermen coming to the table and offer their time and expertise to address the issue and come up with some excellent solutions to reduce bycatch, do these folks not give positive acknowledgement? On top of that, they accuse all of the parties involved of having an incestuous relationship?
I have the answer. They want it all! They care nothing about commercial fishing families on the coast for sure, but they really don’t care for the biggest loser of all, the seafood consumer!
They can continue their negativity, but let me assure you on behalf of the commercial fishing industry, we will certainly continue our positive approach to solving problems.
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