The Personal Side of the Process


My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

James 1:19


I definitely still have a lot to learn about fisheries management and I certainly do not always listen to what I preach. But one thing I do know is that fisheries management is a slow process and I think James 1:19 is a good way to approach it, especially when it comes down to the people involved.


Fisheries management has never been and never will be an exact science. We cannot just stand in one place and count fish like we do for so many land-based animal species that we harvest. Fisheries management is based off landings, models, trends, etc. that continually change. And these Fisheries Management Plans (FMP) have not really been around that long. The first FMP the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) developed was for Blue Crab in 1998 and the first finfish FMP was for Red Drum in 2001. 


That’s the reason we regularly review these FMPs and supplements and amendments are developed to keep up with new information. Gathering and developing this information is a team effort, it takes a lot of people.


People to collect raw data, people to calculate the data, people to present the data, and people to vote on the data. Every person involved in developing these FMPs has a personal journey that has brought them where they are today. Many of the state employees putting together these FMPs started their careers collecting data and have held positions in every stage of the process. 


The people voting on the FMPs, the nine members of the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) are all from NC but each member has their own unique perspective of our fisheries management system. According to the statute that governs the MFC, “The MFC is composed of commercial and recreational fishermen, commercial fishing industry and sport fishing industry representatives, a scientist, and two “at-large” members.” NCDMF also says, “The commission is responsible for managing, protecting, preserving, and enhancing the marine and estuarine resources under its jurisdiction.” 


Those are some tall boots to fill no matter who you are. 


And that’s why the personal side of fisheries management is one of the hardest parts of the job. No one and I repeat, no one, is ever going to make 100% of the people happy with a FMP, supplement, or a vote every time. It’s not possible. There is always going to be someone mad or upset at every stage of the process. And that’s ok too, being upset or mad is part of the process; the public is supposed to have input on this process as well.


I’m not making excuses for people or trying tell you how to act or feel. All I’m saying is try it out for a meeting or two. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger with staff, Commissioners, and even other people at the meeting. 


I guarantee you will learn something you did not know and you might even make some new friends in the process. We don’t know all the answers to fisheries science and we surely won’t know what people involved in the process are thinking if we don’t listen.



Thomas Newman

Fisheries Liaison

Release: Immediate

Contact: Patricia Smith

Date: Feb. 10, 2023

Phone: 252-726-7021



MEDIA ADVISORY: Marine Fisheries Commission to meet Feb. 22-24 in New Bern

MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will meet in-person Feb. 22-24 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel New Bern Riverfront, 100 Middle St., New Bern. The meeting will also be livestreamed on YouTube.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23, and at 9 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 24.

The commission will hold in-person public comment sessions at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, and near the beginning of the meeting on Thursday, Feb. 23. Public comment will not be taken through web conference.


The following information pertains to in-person public comment:

  • Those who wish to speak may sign up at the hotel prior to the public comment period in which they wish to speak.
  • To accommodate as many speakers as possible, the chair will limit each speaker to 3 minutes.
  • Those making comments will be asked to speak only once, either Wednesday night or Thursday morning, but not during both public comment periods.
  • Those who wish to submit handouts to the commission during a public comment period should bring at least 12 copies to the meeting.

The public may also submit written comments via the following methods:

  • An online form accessible through the Marine Fisheries Commission Meetings webpage.
  • Mail to February 2023 Marine Fisheries Commission Meeting Comments, P.O Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557.
  • Dropped off at the Division of Marine Fisheries’ Morehead City Headquarters Office at 3441 Arendell St., Morehead City.


Written comments must be received by 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20.

The YouTube link will be posted on the Marine Fisheries Commission Meetings webpage. After the meeting, a recording will be posted online.

Agenda items include votes on the following:

  • Adoption of Supplement A to Amendment 1 of the Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan;
  • Adoption of amendments to two rules,
    • Mutilated Finfish Rule (15A NCAC 03M .0101), and
    • Marinas, Mooring Areas, and Other Docking Facilities Rule (15A NCAC 18A .0911);
  • Selection of options for a number of proposed rules pertaining to the below three issues to allow staff to prepare rulemaking items for a later meeting,
    • Data Collection and Harassment Prevention for the Conservation of Marine and Estuarine Resources,
    • Oyster Sanctuary Rule Changes, and
    • Conforming Rule Changes for Shellfish Relay Program and Shellfish Leases and Franchises.


The commission is also scheduled to receive presentations on false albacore, protected resources, and spotted seatrout, and an update on southern flounder.


The full agenda and briefing book are posted on the Marine Fisheries Commission Meetings webpage. 


N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission


Quarterly Business Meeting


Feb. 22 at 6 p.m.

Feb. 23 at 9 a.m.
Feb. 24 at 9 a.m.


DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel New Bern Riverfront
100 Middle St., New Bern


Click here for link






P.O. Box 769, 3441 Arendell St., Morehead City N.C. 28577


The only fish issue discussed last week was during Thursday’s meeting of the Joint Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Natural and Economic Resources. They are in the process of getting background info on the various departments and budgetary needs and on Thursday the discussion included the Division of Marine Fisheries and Marine Fisheries Commission. Nothing exciting during the staff presentation but some interesting questions from several of the members.

Senator Norman Sanderson asked about data collection for commercial and recreational catches; Senator Kandie Smith asked about a lawsuit over the federal Clean Water Act; Representative Ed Goodwin had questions about river herring and striped bass but mostly had some very interesting comments about river herring based upon his background as one who has lived on the Chowan River for a long time.

This was a budget committee meeting and the staff person is from Fiscal Research and not equipped to answer legal or fisheries biology questions so she deferred to get those answers to the committee. It’s my understanding the answers will come from staff to the committee via email today or tomorrow.

God bless,