Yesterday, January 17, North Carolina opened its striped bass trawler season by decree of our old friend Dr. Louis B. Daniel III. If you remember last year’s travesty of miles-long trails of dead striped bass around Oregon Inlet and it pissed you off to see such wanton waste, take a moment to see what changes NC Fisheries management have made this year: instead of a 50-fish/day limit, it is now a 100-fish/day limit. So a netting process designed to ensnare thousands of fish at a time is now limited to a single century per day and all bycatch must be given the heave-ho overboard, which will surely eliminate the embarrassment the state suffered last year. We can be assured that the thousands of dead fish floating in state waters will be happily plucked from the sea by the same flocks of birds surf fishermen once saw as an auspicious sign of live fish. Since there is no daily weight limit, the trawlers will continue to legally cull their catch to maximize profits and do their legal duty of tossing undersized dead fish overboard while destroying the ocean floor.
An article from last year’s fish kill described it like this: “The kill was so large that no one, including the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, has ventured a guess as to its size.” Since the NC Division of Marine Fisheries doesn’t seem to recall the black eye it got last year, it’s time for us to remind them again. If you read the posts we had on the site last year (this one and this one), then it should be a no brainer to see that this is no way to run a fishery. It’s irresponsible at best, and a flagrant middle finger to those of us who actually give a shit about the state of the marine fishery in the Atlantic. For those of us who had a bad season, and there were a lot of us, don’t think that incidents like these in NC aren’t a factor. Forget for a moment the division between commercials and recs, the trawlers are allowed to do this by law. The trawlers are legally bound to dump overage and undersized fish over the side. In this instance, the law is the problem.
If you remember last year, then you hopefully also recall that the furious backlash the DMF received, primarily in the form of letters, emails, and phone calls from people like you and I, actually made them take notice and change their policy. (You may also remember the grassroots effort a few months ago to pass new legislation regarding menhaden, a movement spearheaded by the Pew Environmental Group, which resulted in a victory for the fish.) Unfortunately, money talks, as they say, and the millions of dollars pouring into the coffers of state representatives, and other appointees who make these decisions, makes for short memories and it’s up to fishermen and women to remind them. I’m going to contact Jamie Pollack (recall the FSIA and possible changes in the Magnuson-Stevens Act in this post) at Pew tonight to see what she can offer as far as info and work out a form letter you can email to the people who are supposed to be responsible for the state fishery. I know that a lot of you think it’s bullshit to send these, but it really only takes a few minutes of your time, and, as the two earlier examples showed, it can make a difference.
For now, here are the names and contact info for members of the NC DMF.
Louis Daniel – Director
Dee Lupton – Deputy Director
Catherine Blum – Contact
Morehead City Office – (252) 808-8013 or 1-800-682-2632
Via E-mail: Catherine.Blum@ncdenr.gov
Morehead City Office – (252) 808-8074 or 1-800-682-2632
Via E-mail: David.L.Taylor@ncdenr.gov
Lead Bioligist: Striped Bass, Central/Southern