The Declining Mentality of the CCA


Glenn Skinner and myself recently did interviews with Spectrum News on a segment called, In Focus with Loretta Boniti. The report, titled N.C. Fishing Feud, also featured staff and board members of the North Carolina Coastal Conservation Association (CCA). Ms. Boniti gave both sides equal opportunity to talk about their sector and discuss management challenges.


You can find the interview here:–n-c–fishing-feud


The story focuses on the perceived “fishing feud” between recreational and commercial fishermen in our state and tries to address if there is enough fish to support both sectors. I personally do not believe such a feud exists with every day anglers and commercial fishermen and I also believe with proper management there are plenty of fish available for everyone. 


We all want plenty of fish today and more fish for tomorrow. The real feud in our state is battling the misinformation that CCA and other groups are spewing to the public, our state representatives, and their own members. Sometimes I wonder if they have even brainwashed themselves.


Hopefully you watch the video, but I will quote a few lines from the interview. 


CCA Chairman Rocky Carter said, “I don’t think the fish populations are nearly as healthy as they were when I moved here 18 years ago.” 


CCA President Donald Willis said, “We are going to completely crash this fishery in North Carolina. We are well on our way to that. We’re going to see it crash and it’s going to destroy it.”


CCA Executive Director David Sneed, when asked about the big concerns on the recreational side of North Carolina fisheries his reply was, “We’re not doing enough to protect our fisheries for the future. What we have ended up with in NC is management by crisis. We’re ignoring the problems we are seeing in our fisheries until they are completely declined to the point where it is going to take years to rebuild them.”


CCA, always ready to preach doom and gloom. Mr. Sneed then went on to look at the health of our fish stocks by using NC commercial fisheries landings from 1996 – 2021. 


NC Commercial Landings From 1996 – 2021

  • Blue Crabs – down 81%
  • Southern Flounder – down 87%
  • Spot – down 77%
  • Croaker – down 95%
  • Grey Trout – down 98%
  • River Herring – closed
  • Striped Bass – down 84%


Mr. Sneed of course did not give any context on commercial regulations and environmental changes over this time period which affected commercial harvest in every species he chose to address. Of course, commercial harvest of southern flounder is down, we are on a strict quota and only have a few weeks harvest season. Of course, commercial gray trout harvest is down, the commercial trip limit is only 100 pounds. Commercial harvest of striped bass is also on a strict commercial harvest quota, when the quota is low our harvest is going to be low. Blue crabs and river herring have been affected by water quality and other environmental issues throughout NC and every other state in the Southeastern United States.


Well since Mr. Sneed chose not to discuss the recreational sector, I thought I would take a look myself, and to be fair I only looked at the same time period he looked at commercial harvest. 


From the period of 1996 to 2021 recreational catch (harvest plus releases) in North Carolina has gone up significantly in almost every species. Below I have compiled the percent change in catch in the NC recreational sector during this period. All data was obtained from the NC Division of Marine Fisheries and the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP).


NC Recreational Catch From 1996 – 2021

  • Red Drum – up 1,528%
  • Speckled Trout – up 618%
  • Bluefish – up 201%
  • Croaker – up 323%
  • Grey Trout – up 255%
  • Spot – declined 83%
  • Southern Flounder – up 336%


So, with commercial harvest declining over this period and recreational catch increasing, does this mean our fish stocks have declined? If our fish stocks are truly in decline, would not both sectors show declining trends? Why would a recreational fishing representative use only commercial harvest data to try to show a decline in NC fisheries? 


Maybe because the whole truth does not fit the CCA’s doom and gloom message of declining NC fisheries. Maybe because Mr. Sneed has mastered the art of using snippets of truths to perpetuate CCA’s lies!


When you listen to commercial fishermen and non-CCA recreational anglers who are out on the water every day, most are not complaining about how bad the fish stocks in NC are doing, instead they are saying how flounder, trout (grey and speckled) and drum are becoming more abundant!


As our Executive Director Glenn Skinner said in the interview, “Catch has not declined, only who is catching the fish. Now the majority of the fish are caught by recreational fishermen and the majority are released. It’s hard to image that you overfish a stock for three generations but catch remains stable. There is something missing…. but rather than push for better data, somebody wants to push us off the water.”



Thomas Newman

Fisheries Liaison


The General Assembly is still in session, mainly due to differences between the Senate and House on the budget. One never knows for sure but this could go on till the middle of August. However, I brought the RV home a couple of weeks ago. I’ll go to Raleigh as needed. There is one bill we’re keeping an eye on that’s in a conference committee.

In the meantime, I’ll be making visits to various docks and businesses as my schedule allows.

God bless,