Decline of the North Carolina Fishing Resource……Help or Election Ploy?
In recent days the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality directed the North Carolina Marine Fisheries to conduct a review of the regulations governing the use of small mesh gill nets in North Carolina fisheries. Almost at the same time, the Division of Marine Fisheries Director Steve Murphey has announced that the 2020 recreational flounder season will be Aug. 16th through Sept. 30th for internal and ocean waters of the state. Both actions were directed by Governor Cooper’s office. Multiple unverified sources have said that Governor Cooper indicated these actions were a response to him having been “beat up on social media” in regard to the marine fisheries outcry.
No matter what the reason for these new developments in this ongoing issue, most agree it’s little more than a band aid on an open artery. First, the state has now confirmed that the Flounder fishery will be closed for the largest part of the 2020 fishing season this year. A 45 day fishing window does little to both resolve this issue or provide a long range correction to that issue. Instead, it’s a weak attempt to silence the growing outcry as we head toward election time. As far as the review of the small mesh gill net issue, it will take years for the outcome of the review or any legislative passage for any changes.
What this adds up to are token movements on the part of the North Carolina Governor to quiet the outrage without actually doing anything. It’s a bridge over the coming election in hopes that both commercial and recreational fishermen will not notice that these steps actually didn’t or likely never will do anything to set our precious North Carolina fishery back on the road to healing and have good management. Again, as it’s been before, it’s about prolonging the interest of the special interest group(s) that have somehow managed to convince the state of North Carolina leaders to turn their backs on those they serve. The interest of the 1 million plus saltwater recreational fishermen and the thousands of commercial fishermen take a back seat or more likely no seat at all.