CCA NC Silence on More Proposed Bag Limit Reductions


I was recently forwarded a copy of the CCA NC’s newsletter Tidelines (, which included a recap of the February 2024 meeting of the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC).


There was one item from their recap which I found particularly interesting, titled “Issues from Commissioners.” During the Issues from Commissioners portion of the MFC agenda, Commissioners are allowed to put forward issues they’d like to discuss at future meetings or request clarification or information, from Division staff, on issues of personal concern to them.  During this portion of the February 2024 meeting, three commissioners, Robert McNeil, Mike Blanton, and Tom Roller, chose to bring forward personal issues to the Commission.


 What I found interesting was that the CCA gave their readers a fairly thorough recap of Commissioners McNeil and Blantons comments but failed to even mention that Commissioner Roller had spoken up.  Commissioner Roller, who has long been a very vocal supporter of the CCA, touched on several issues in his comments, which one would assume were also supported by the CCA given his close ties to that group.


 So, why was there no mention of his comments?


 Was it something he said?


In the past, Roller has expressed his concern with the current recreational bag limits for Black Drum and Sheepshead, which he believes are too high, a concern he reiterated at the February meeting. 


Is it possible that the CCA doesn’t want their followers to know that Tom Roller, and likely the CCA, are pushing to, once again, decrease the recreational bag limits for more species?  That certainly appears to be the case, but why?


 Since its inception, the CCA NC has openly supported virtually every proposed decrease to recreational bag limits, regardless of the species, yet Commissioner Roller has voiced his concerns with recreational bag limits for black drum twice, with nothing but crickets from the CCA.


 Why the silence this time?


It could have something to do with the CCA lawsuit, filed against the State, in which they claim the state has failed to properly manage coastal fisheries, failing to “satisfy its obligations under the public trust doctrine” and violating their right to fish.


 As proof of the States mismanagement of our coastal fisheries, the CCA points to “increasingly more restrictive” “public fishing limits” and cites harvest seasons, minimum size limits, and lower bag limits as examples of “public fishing limits”.  The CCA goes on to claim that “many long-time, resident public fishers can testify about the days when possession limits and size limits for species important to the fishing public were largely unnecessary due to the viability of fish stock.”


 That’s right, the CCA is using harvest seasons, increased minimum size limits, and decreased recreational bag limits, management measures they vocally supported, as proof of “mismanagement” and claiming those measures would not be necessary if we had viable fish stocks!


 I can see where these claims would make it hard for the CCA to publicly push, once again, for lowering recreational bag limits, especially for a species like Black Drum.


The 2023 benchmark stock assessment for Black Drum found that the stock was not overfished or experiencing overfishing, suggesting that the 10 fish bag limit, which has been in place since 2014, does not jeopardize the viability of this fishery.


 Furthermore, over the last 10 years (2013-2022) recreational harvest has accounted for 96% of the total coastwide landings of Black Drum, meaning that the CCA can’t claim commercial overfishing as justification for lowering bag limits.


 Simply put, and using the CCA’s own logic, by pushing to lower recreational bag limits for Black Drum, Commissioner Roller, and most likely the CCA NC, are attempting to eliminate or at a minimum, severely curtail the public’s right to fish for this species, despite it being a viable and predominantly recreational fishery.  Given their claims, one can see how vocally pushing for “public fishing limits” creates a dilemma for the CCA.  On one hand, they claim that implementing “public fishing limits”, such as bag limits, proves mismanagement and violates their constitutional right to fish, on the one hand, they claim that setting and even lowering bag limits is proactive management necessary for proper management of our coastal fisheries!


 In fact, the CCA just openly supported rulemaking for False Albacore, which, if approved, would allow the Fisheries Director to implement recreational bag limits, not to exceed 10 fish per person, per day, for that species.


 Again, in their lawsuit, they claim that possession limits were once “unnecessary due to the viability of fish stocks”, but for albacore they claim that possession limits are necessary to ensure that this fishery remains viable.


 By pushing for bag limits for False Albacore and Bonito and lower bag limits for Black Drum and Sheepshead, are they now claiming that the State cannot allow the “fishing public” to harvest fish in quantities that cause overexploitation of North Carolina’s coastal fisheries resources?


 I didn’t see that in their lawsuit!


According to their complaint, “the State cannot allow the for-profit harvesting of finfish or shellfish in quantities or through methods that cause over exploitation or undue wastage to North Carolina’s coastal fisheries resources”.


By their actions, it would appear that the CCA believes the State has a duty to manage public harvest in the same manner as “for-profit” harvest!


 What about “undue wastage”? Does this include recreational dead discards also?


One can only hope the Attorney Generals office is paying close attention to the disparities between the CCA’s legal theories and their action!


In the meantime, just as they did prior to filing their lawsuit, the CCA continues to push for further restrictions on both commercial and recreational harvest.  Of course, if you were to ask them about “undue wastage” and the States duty to manage recreational dead discards, I’d bet you’ll hear nothing but crickets from the CCA!


Glenn Skinner

NCFA Executive Director





Last Tuesday we had our primary elections. I will assume all of us have heard the results for President, Congress and Governor. If you don’t know, send me a message or call me.

As far as our General Assembly, Michael Speciale lost to Bob Brinson for NC Senate, District 3, which is comprised of Beaufort, Craven and Lenoir Counties. While Brinson will have a Democrat opponent, the district is overwhelmingly Republican.

Representative George Cleveland surprisingly lost by 95 votes to a 21-year-old college student,

Wyatt Gable. George has served in the House for 20 years and a good friend to commercial fishermen. Gable also has a Democrat opponent but is favored in the general election this fall.

God bless,