FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR- GLENN SKINNER
On Thursday March 18, Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) Chairman Rob Bizzell, with little notice, cancelled the special MFC meeting scheduled for later that day. The purpose of that meeting was to review and approve Draft Amendment 3 to the Southern Flounder FMP to be sent out for public comment. According to Mr. Bizzell, the meeting was rescheduled for March 31st to allow the Commission to reconsider how the quota should be allocated.
At the February MFC meeting it was decided by a vote of 5 to 4 that the allocation of southern flounder should be based on traditional landings with 70% allocated to the commercial sector and 30% to the recreational sector.
The CCA and many anglers are pushing the Commission to reallocate a portion of the commercial sector’s traditional landings to the recreational sector with a 50 \ 50 split of the allowable harvest. Chairman Bizzell, who voted against the 70 \ 30 split previously passed by the Commission, noted the significant amount of public comment supporting reallocation as the reason he wishes to revisit the allocation discussion.
Of course, many times in the past, the Commission has approved management measures that did not align with the overwhelming majority of public comment, but did not revisit the issue.
In this case the issue of reallocation should never have been discussed much less voted on by the Commission in February and should not be revisited, as reallocation during a rebuilding period is not appropriate. Reallocation from one user group to another has the potential to unpredictably impact effort, harvest, and dead discards in ways that could slow or even prevent rebuilding.
The CCA has pushed for the 50 \ 50 split noting that reallocation of the Albemarle Striped Bass stock has already occurred resulting in a 50 \ 50 split between sectors. This is true but the CCA failed to mention that the reallocation did not occur during rebuilding, the recreational sectors allocation was increased but only after the stock was recovered and additional harvest was allowed.
It is common practice to base allocations on traditional landings, implement equal harvest reductions on both sectors during rebuilding, and avoid reallocation during rebuilding. This type of management strategy has long been interpreted, by the State, to represent ” fair ” management and has been the official position of the CCA in the past.
In 2010 it was the position of DEQ, DMF, and the CCA that in order to meet statutory requirements for fair management of Speckled Trout both user groups should take equal reductions based on traditional splits and no reallocation of the resource should occur despite much public comment to the contrary. At that time the recreational sector was responsible for 75% of the removals of Speckled Trout compared to 25% for the commercial sector, very similar to the current split for flounder, with only one major difference, the commercial sector has the biggest slice of the pie this time.
At the August 2010 MFC meeting Steve Ammons gave public comment on behalf of the CCA and stated that their position for managing Speckled Trout was to reduce both user groups equally on a percentage wise basis and that reallocation of this important fishery should not occur.
This is the complete opposite of their current position where they propose immediate reallocation and that the commercial sector should bear the brunt of rebuilding as the party responsible for the majority of the landings.
Rob Bizzell, who was also the MFC Chairman when the Speckled Trout FMP was being adopted, knows his current actions are contrary to past positions taken by the State and Commission but has chosen to misuse his authority as Chairman by initially allowing the reallocation discussion to occur and now by forcing the majority of the Commission to revisit the issue after they have made their decision.
It’s been suggested that I push the commercial industry to send in comments supporting traditional allocations but, I refuse to pit commercial fishermen against recreational interest in a conversation that should not be occurring at this time!
The allocation issue has been discussed and settled by a majority vote of the Commission and should not be reconsidered at this time, unless, one of the five Commissioners who voted in favor of the 70\30 split makes a motion to reconsider their vote, as required by Roberts Rules of Order.
If recreational interests wish to increase anglers’ access to our coastal fisheries, they should push to increase recreational bag limits for Red Drum and Speckled Trout and turn a portion of their exceptionally high level of dead discards into harvest rather than push for actions that could jeopardize the rebuilding of Southern Flounder.
North Carolina Fisheries Association, Inc.
101 N. 5th Street
Morehead City NC 28557
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE for 3/19/2012:
NORTH CAROLINA GENERAL ASSEMBLY:
Please note the 5 bills at the bottom that have not previously been reported. Although NCFA has been participating in the discussions on some of these, we have no “official” positions until the Board meets on March 30th.
There are 2 committee meetings scheduled for next week concerning bills listed below. Both are on Tuesday at 2:00 in different committees. One is for H-2 & H-281 in Marine Resources and H-181 in Wildlife Resources. Bills can be put on a committee calendar quickly, however.
S-26 TERMINAL GROIN DEFINITION;
Currently in the Senate Agriculture, Energy & Environment Committee
H-2 BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN AS STATE MARINE MAMMAL
Favorable report by the House State Government Committee; scheduled in the House Marine Resources Committee on Tuesday, 3/23 at 2:00pm.
H-87 FUNDS/NEW NORTH CAROLINA MARITIME MUSEUM
Currently in the House Committee on Appropriations; if favorable Rules.
H-161 ADDRESS ABANDONED AND DERELICT VESSELS;
sponsored by Hanig, McElraft, Iler & Shepard;
Favorable report by Marine Resources Committee; now in Rules.
H-181 WILDLIFE RESOURCES COMMISSION AMENDMENTS;
sponsored by Adams, Yarborough & Wray;
Currently in Wildlife Resources and scheduled in that committee on Tuesday, 3/23 at 2:00pm.
H-182 INCREASING MEAT PRODUCTION AND CAPACITY;
The above is the “short title”; full title is: AN ACT TO STRENGTHEN THE MEAT AND SEAFOOD PROCESSING INDUSTRIES IN NORTH CAROLINA BY MAKING PERMANENT THE “INCREASING SEAFOOD AND MEAT PRODUCTION AND CAPACITY” GRANT PROGRAM
sponsored by McNeely, Gillespie, Hanig, and Elmore;
Currently in Agriculture Committee; if favorable to Marine Resources.
BILLS INTRODUCED NOT ON PREVIOUS LISTS:
S-279 REGULATE NAVIGABLE WATERS (New Bern, Bridgeton, Oriental)
sponsored by Sanderson, Steinburg;
Currently in Agriculture
S-296 COLLABORATORY/FISHERIES STUDY
sponsored by Lee, Sanderson, Lazzara, Garrett, Mayfield, Steinburg
Currently in Agriculture
S-317 MARINE FISHERIES REFORM
sponsored by Sanderson;
similar to a bill by the same name passed by the Senate 46-1 in 2019 but never heard in the House; similar, but there are some significant changes.
Currently in Agriculture
H-281 LOGGERHEAD TURTLE/STATE SALTWATER REPTILE
sponsored by Iler, Hanig, McElraft, Shepard, Autry, Belk, Brown, Butler, Carter, Clemmons, Dahle, Goodwin, Harrison, Hawkins, Insko, Majeed, Moss, Penny, Warren
Currently in Marine Resources and scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, 3/23 at 2:00pm.
H-327 UPDATE LEGISLATIVE REVIEW OF RULES PROCESS
sponsored by Moffitt, Riddell, Stevens, Yarborough, Clampitt
Currently in Judiciary 2
In late January, Congressman Don Young from Alaska introduced House Bill 628, Shellfish Aquaculture Improvement Act of 2021
The bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. No additional action has been taken as of 3/18/2021.