NCWF…Sounds a lot like the CCA’s approach to messaging. Doesn’t it?
A couple of weeks ago I had a call from a friend who is not a fisherman, recreational or commercial, but has taken an interest in fisheries management. He reached out to ask me about the North Carolina Wildlife Federation (NCWF), as he had seen them mentioned in several of our weekly newsletters but was having trouble finding their fisheries positions on the NCWF website. I always assume that when I get a question, triggered from information we’ve distributed to the public, there are many more individuals with the same question who haven’t reached out for an answer, and try to provide the answer to more than just the one who called
Information about marine fisheries, while a little vague and misleading, is actually fairly easy to find on the NCWF website. Look for the “Wildlife” icon at the top of the page and then click on “Marine Fisheries” in the list that pops up below. Under “Marine Fisheries” you’ll find what the NCWF describes as “the problem” (North Carolina Marine Fisheries Mismanagement), “the solution” (Let em Spawn and Commercial license reform), and “what we’re doing” (one mission, one commission) each of which we’ll take a closer look at over the next couple of weeks. For now, I encourage everyone to check out the NCWF’s “Marine Fisheries” page and be mindful of a couple key points
First, despite the undeniable fact that the vast majority of the commercially and recreationally significant species of finfish caught in NC are part of a much broader multi-state or coastwide stock, the Wildlife Federation never mentions the impacts of fishing in other states or similar declines seen in these states. Instead, they single out “mismanagement” in North Carolina as the problem and recommend policy and political changes, solely in NC, as the solution.
I ask you, can fishing practices occurring only in North Carolina be responsible for the simultaneous decline of a coastwide fish stock shared by multiple states?
Can policy changes, which disadvantage only NC fishermen, anglers, seafood consumers, and related businesses be “the solution” to coastwide declines of certain species of finfish?
The NCWF is quick to point out that, since the passage of the Fisheries Reform Act (FRA) in 1997, commercial landings of certain species have dramatically declined in NC, but makes no mention of commercial harvest trends in other states or how regulation, required under the FRA, impacted harvest here in NC. They also failed to compare commercial harvest trends to recreational harvest for the same species.
Which brings me to our next point.
When outlining their positions on Marine Fisheries, the NCWF makes virtually no mention of recreational fishing. Not the benefits, impacts, harvest, bycatch, dead discards, nothing! It’s as if recreational fishing is irrelevant to the discussion of marine fisheries management in the state.
North Carolina consistently ranks among the highest in the Nation in the number of angler trips, number of fish landed, and the number of coastal anglers. Of course, if you’re claiming widespread “mismanagement” of our coastal fisheries, these types of stats wouldn’t support that argument. Would they?
Sounds a lot like the CCA’s approach to messaging. Doesn’t it?
While these groups demonize commercial fishing and dismiss their own contributions to “overfishing”, the state agencies, tasked with managing our coastal fisheries, don’t have that luxury. The Fisheries Reform Act requires the state to provide fair regulation of commercial and recreational groups and adopt management measures that provide the greatest overall benefit to the state, in respect to food production, recreational opportunity, and conservation.
This is no enviable task if you ask me!
Perhaps fair regulation and food production are not priorities of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. This would certainly explain why they view the Fisheries Reform Act as a failure, wouldn’t it?
Of course, the FRA only applies to the state agencies currently tasked with managing our coastal fisheries, which brings us to “the solution” according to the Wildlife Federation.
One mission, one Commission!
NCWF supports moving the management of our coastal fisheries under the authority of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, where the management process outlined in the Fisheries Reform Act does not apply. While the Wildlife Federation claims “efficiency and science-based management” is their goal the truth is, one mission, one commission is just a means to an end.
The management process, set forth in the FRA, has prevented groups like the NCWF and CCA from taking wild caught North Carolina seafood off the menu and reallocating those fisheries resources solely to themselves. After multiple failed attempts to rewrite the Fisheries Reform Act, to favor their agenda, they’ve found a work around. Simply move the management of our coastal fisheries to the WRC, where fair management is not required!
While the NC Wildlife Federation appears to be separate from the CCA their goals are definitely the same. I can assure you the North Carolina Fisheries Association draws no distinctions between the two and will do everything in our power to help you, the public, see the truth.
In the meantime, I encourage everyone to do your own research and stay tuned for more on the North Carolina Wildlife Federations true agenda.
NCFA Executive Director