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30 Jun

North Carolina Fishing Decline…..Seeking an Outside View and Direction

We’re now heading into the days of summer fishing. So far, fishing reports have been showing good catches of both offshore and inshore fishing as the fishing hits the summer patterns. The Covid-19 issue has served as a distraction to addressing the concerns of the North Carolina saltwater fishing resource. Most of us have placed our focus on social distancing, stimulus checks, and when life will return to some symbolism of “normal”. However, the problem still resides in and around our coastal waters with no recognizable movement.

I believe that movement can still be forthcoming and can begin with the court of public opinion and the coming election. It is also my belief and it has been for a long time, that the suggestions, perspectives, cures, and demands have been fragmented. Over the recent years and months numerous groups in addition to countless North Carolina anglers have voiced their opinions, complaints, frustrations, and demands. This largely unfocused, but sincere effort will only continue to fail until the message stays focused on the issues at hand and those that fail to resolve them. It will also fail until the anglers of North Carolina take action that results in a positive impact. It is neither the fault of the recreational or commercial fishermen. Blaming either group is equal to blaming the citizens for a town’s high crime rate. The responsibility lies squarely with those who create and enforce the laws. It’s the responsibility of the State Government that holds the public’s trust and the departments that they manage. Just like the responsibility of the town with the high crime rate lies with the local government and their agencies that are assigned to address that problem.

The statistics on the North Carolina fishing resource is staggering, but yet our governor and legislature continue to validate the actions or lack of actions of the North Carolina Marine Fisheries. If this agency and most of its management had been part of a private corporation that depended on performance and customer satisfaction, it would have shut down long ago. In this case it’s part of a bloated bureaucracy that fails to be accountable for its overwhelming inability to recognize the issues, let alone restore our precious resources they have been entrusted to protect. What I have learned in the past 12 months of researching and writing about this issue is that the North Carolina Marine Fisheries management has failed. However, it should be noted that many people who work for the agency have the best of intentions and share in the concerns and frustrations with our declining fishing resource. Many work hard every day to protect and restore this precious state’s treasure.

It’s time to stop the finger-pointing from all parties and start moving toward not only a conservation action but a restoration action. It’s time for our governor and the NC Legislature to get their heads out of the sand and stop playing bureaucrats and take action to fix a system that favors special interests and not the recreational and commercial fishermen of the state. The time is now with the coming elections for those responsible to make it known where they stand and then stand behind it, unlike Governor Cooper has done during this term. It’s time for the people of North Carolina to go to the polls in November to vote for the best option to serve the needs of our fishing resource and encourage others to do likewise. It’s just time!

Moving forward,

On Wednesday, May 29th, 2020, I will be mailing a letter to both gubernatorial candidates (Cooper and Forest) as well as each member of the North Carolina Legislature and make the recommendations of the following:

The State of North Carolina seeks and secures an impartial party to serve as a consultant that has no past or present ties or relationship with the state of North Carolina government or any of its agencies. This consulting group would be charged with performing an impartial evaluation of the state’s Marine Fishery agency. The evaluation would be followed up with recommendations on corrective measures and a detailed plan on how to best execute them. These findings would be made public and efforts made on the part of North Carolina to adopt the recommendations and execute them to restore the state’s fishing resource to a pattern of sustainable growth.

While this is extremely broad strokes to a more detailed proposal, it does give you an idea of the concept and makes clear the plans and commitments the gubernatorial candidates are willing to commit to before the election. The same is true for the state’s legislature. The response given by each official would provide to you (the voter) the information you will need on election day. The restoration starts with a commitment. A commitment for the anglers to come together with a unified message and demand. A demand that removes all the doubts and silences all the debates. It’s a demand for a once and for all picture of what has happened and continues to happen to our fishery. Most of all it comes from a source that has no special interest or predetermined influence. It also comes with a roadmap to recovery, mitigation, restoration, and sustainability without being altered and stained by politics and greed.

Then it is the North Carolina government official’s time to live up to their elected responsibility to the 2 million-plus anglers of this state.  On June 18, 2020 I will report the responses, if any that received from both gubernatorial candidates and the members of the legislature. This can be found on the Coastal Carolina Fisherman website.

Just as importantly it’s time for the recreational and commercial fisherman to take the time to respond at the voting booth. It’s time to point our fingers at the only ones responsible for this serious issue and the only ones that can fix it. By utilizing an unbiased qualified outside firm to determine the issues, their depth and a solution, the constant debating will in and truth will be told. This will once and for all expose the true and unarguable root of  North Carolina Fishing resource problem. This is only a single step, but it’s a simple start to a problem that’s not being addressed.

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