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25 May

South Atlantic Fishery Meeting on Spanish and King Mackerel Future…. Brings No Answers, Just Arguments

The South Atlantic Marine Fisheries recently announced that the agency would be holding several “port meetings.” These meetings will take place in all off the agency’s coverage states to gather information on the Atlantic King and Spanish Mackerel. The announcement for the meeting encouraged both commercial and recreational fishermen to attend. The first of these meetings took place in Wilmington, NC on April 1, 2024.

Many attendees at the first meeting came away from the event, scratching their heads as to what was the goal of the meeting and what South Atlantic Marine Fisheries’ next step would be. While the first meeting was said to gather the views and thoughts of the commercial and recreational fishermen’s community, the question was “for what reason?” Many of those anglers present came away frustrated with not being informed of the meeting’s bottom purpose. Virtually no statistics of specific concerns were made available that would suggest the reason for such a meeting. According to Captain Eris Jones of Topsail Beach, NC, the meeting was largely a “finger pointing” event that included multiple factions of anglers.

The “finger pointing” included commercial anglers demanding that King Mackerel tournaments decrease the number of Kings landed in tournaments due to the negative impact on commercial fishing. Captain Jones commented to Saltwater Angler in an interview following the meeting, that considering the number of King Mackerel fishing tournaments held in the Carolinas and the number of participants in those tournaments, such a reduction would have no impact on the King Mackerel population. While some of the King Mackerel tournaments can have up to 500 participants such as the U.S. Open King Mackerel tournament held in Southport, NC each year, the actual number of fish caught and not released is an inconsequential number when you consider it is a once-a-year event.

Upon conclusion of the Wilmington “port meeting,” the attendees came away with no information or the real reason for the meeting, no statistics on stock assessments for the Spanish and King Mackerel off the North Carolina coast or any other coast. Instead, it was a meeting that ultimately ended with more disdain between 2 parties, the commercial and recreational fishing community.

It’s my opinion and that of many commercial and recreational anglers that state, regional and national agencies should avoid at all costs the ongoing conflict between these groups. The fact is, that both commercial and recreational fishermen are the losers in this issue. It’s certain that until the 2 groups stop pointing the blame finger at each other and point it in

the direction of the real issue (lack of adequate management), it will only continue to escalate. It’s the responsibly of the state and national agencies to have the solution to the decline of North Carolina’s fisheries. Neighboring states have been successful at addressing the fishery problems while North Carolina and other agencies continue with the “public meeting” approach. An approach that continues to fail. I regret to see that the South Atlantic Marine Fisheries has now adopted that same failing approach. For many years, I have been one that had much confidence in the SAMF. Today, I’m disappointed and hope this past meeting is not a sign of things to come!


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