Well the NC Division of Marine Fisheries has released a statement after being embarrassed by the YouTube video making the rounds. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like much is going to happen before the trawling season ends on January 20. From their release:
“The NC Division of Marine Fisheries is investigating reports of numerous dead striped bass floating in the ocean waters in northern Dare County areas.
The estimates of the numbers of dead fish have ranged from in the hundreds to in the thousands. The division is trying to determine the actual extent and cause of this event. However, the fish appear to be discards from fishing activity….
The commercial striped bass trawl fishery is scheduled to close at 6 p.m. Thursday. The division will evaluate the effort and landings in this fishery to determine if quota remains and if the fishery should reopen. The division will also consider if alternative management measures could be used to prevent future discard mortality.”
So they’ll think about it and consider changing the law and the limits for trawlers, meanwhile boats are leaving a trail of dead striped bass five miles long off the coast. Their practice itself isn’t the only problem to the striped bass population: arguments for or against commercial fishing is a wholly different argument here. What we are seeing here is commercial fishing in practice, following the letter of the law, knowing full well that they can trawl and get thousands of bass in their nets per day, high grade the 50 biggest fish to maximize profits, and toss the rest overboard, legally.
And this is only what we know so far…
Stripers Forever, a striped bass conservation advocacy group, has prepared this form letter to send to the director of the NC Division of Marine Fisheries. Like I wrote yesterday, not all of us are activists, but as fishermen we should be extremely concerned about the laws governing a fishery that abuses its resources like this, if we want to keep fishing years down the road. Feel free to cut and paste (and add your name). I did.
Louis Daniel – Director
3441 Arendell Street
PO BOX 769
Morehead City, NC 28557-0769
Dear Dr. Daniels – The world is now aware of the terrible misuse of the striped bass resource caused by the commercial ocean trawl fishery off the North Carolina Outer Banks. These fish are worth considerably more per pound if allocated to the recreational fishery in North Carolina than when taken by commercial harvest. But if the practice of commercial fishing for striped bass must continue in NC, certainly the participants should never be allowed to cull and high grade these fish. It is already too late to save the thousands of large striped bass wasted by this fishery during the 2011 winter season, but we hope that you will use the power of your office to keep this from happening in the future.
My name here