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Gamefish Status

Post  Backlash on Sun Jan 08, 2012 10:40 am

It appears that serious discussions about Gamefish status for Striped bass, Red Drum , and speckled trout will finally begin to take place this. North Carolina is one of the last, if not the last of the southern states to take any positive steps to protect these value sport fish. Numbers from the Federeal fish managers and the NCDMF clearly indicate that these species are much more valuable as a recreational fishery than for commercial interest. This article from the North Carolina Sportsman explains the numbers further.



http://www.northcarolinasportsman.com/details.php?id=2283
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Re: Gamefish Status

Post  Deepblu505 on Sun Jan 08, 2012 3:58 pm

That is a very good article in North Carolina Sportsman , it makes it very clear who has the power in this issue. It is us the recreational fisherman. What we have to do is get off our butts and contact our reps and tell them how we feel about this issue and that how we will vote is in direct correlation with how they vote on this issue. The representatives work for us , we have a bigger voice than commercial fishermen and there lobbiest. I would go so far as to question any representative ,that votes against giving these fish game fish status, why they vote this way or better yet how much are they paid to vote this way from the kick backs of the commercial industry? This is just my not so humble opinion, but maybe an investigation into their funding is warranted?
And here is one Senators that has shown how he is against Game fish Status for these fish:East revealed as foe of saltwater changes
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Re: Gamefish Status

Post  fishgent on Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:02 am

Albea: North Carolina can fix what’s wrong with saltwater management


Redf drum, spotted seatrout, stripers need protection, NC TV host says.

By Craig Holt [url=http://northcarolinasportsman.com/details.php?id=2307#]2[/url]



22 hours ago | Mobile Reader | Print


Courtesy of Joe Albea
Joe Albea of Greenville has been a crusader for coastal resources for many years, and he's now pushing for changes in the management of redfish, speckled trout and stripers fisheries in North Carolina.
Joe Albea, 57, remembers when Pamlico Sound was full of big croakers and gray trout, along with many other species.

“Croakers and gray trout were the two breadwinners in the sound back in the ’70s,” said Albea, a Greenville native who produces and hosts two UNC-TV shows: Carolina Outdoor Journal and Exploring Carolina. “Fishing was great for recreational and commercial anglers then, but we didn’t have the big trawlers out there.”
<p>Now, years after large ocean-going trawls started using the sound, anglers can find a few croakers, but they’re mostly tiny fish, usually less than a pound in weight, and the gray trout have all but disappeared.

To paraphrase the words at the end of the move “King Kong:” “T’wasn’t netting that killed the sound, but big nets.”

Commercial – and to a lesser extent, recreational – fishing also has ripped apart Southern flounder stocks and kept spotted seatrout numbers and sizes low, as well as red drum – until they finally were protected somewhat by a 10-fish netting by-catch allowance and a daily hook-and-line limit of one fish.

But Albea, who saw the North Carolina coast once support both activities, isn’t dead set against all netting.

“It’s just the amount of gear … and the large trawlers,” he said. “Back in the day of small, wooden trawl boats, they didn’t tear up the sound as bad, and by-catch wasn’t as big an issue. Today, the big ocean steel-haul trawlers continue to turn over the bottom.

“Commercial gear and recreational pressure, to some extent, destroyed inside flounder. No fishery can sustain that kind of pressure, and Pamlico Sound, as big as it is, has paid the price.”

After the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries put restrictions on the recreational giggers’ take of flounder – setting identical limits to those governing hook-and-line anglers – commercial fishermen simply turned to gill nets and pound nets, which could be fished without restriction. Not only that, but the minimum size netters were permitted to land was an inch shorter than the recreational size limit. And the slaughter continued.

For example, when the recreational size limit for flounder was 12 inches and the commercial size limit was 11 inches, flounder larger than 12 became as scarce as abortionists at a Rick Santorum rally.

“Back in the history of Pamlico Sound, sailors had a hard time navigating the sound because of its oyster beds. I’m pretty sure when the big trawlers started entering the sound, that’s when the oyster beds started going downhill,” Albea said.

Ocean-going trawlers drag heavy chains across the bottom, kicking up shrimp and other species that are caught in the trawler’s tail bags, then hoisted aboard ship. But this method destroys the habitats of oysters and clams, and it tears up underwater grasses where baitfish and even ocean species spawn and their fry hide. With no protection, small fish are easy prey for larger predators.

“There’s also the by-catch problem,” Albea said.

By-catch is a term to describe “incidental take” of untargeted fish in order to land a valuable commercial species, in particular, shrimp.

“I know it’s been said for each pound of shrimp, trawl nets kill 10 pounds of other species, but I’ve talked to experts who say that ratio is much higher,” Albea said.

When Florida voted to ban inshore netting in 1994 – six years after giving gamefish status to red drum – it created another problem for North Carolina’s saltwater fishery.

“A lot of the Florida people moved to North Carolina,” Albea said.

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries allowed the Floridians to purchase North Carolina commercial fishing licenses, and North Carolina residents could transfer or sell their commercial licenses to the Floridians – even though North Carolina had put a moratorium on the sale of additional commercial licenses. Commercial fishermen from Florida were particularly interested in landing striped mullet, a species they decimated through years of netting in the Sunshine State.

“The Florida guys showed our commercial guys a lot of their tricks,” Albea said.

A favorite technique is to set a net across the mouth of a creek, motor to the back of the creek, and then whack the sides of the boat with a paddle while moving forward, scaring the fish toward the creek mouth and into the net.

“A strike netter can clean out a creek of specks in less than an hour,” Albea said.

And until recently, North Carolina never had an annual total-allowable catch for speckled trout.

As for the gamefish bill and its reincarnation as part of the legislature’s Committee on Marine Fisheries, Albea said the issue is fairly simple.

“It’s the state’s decision whether or not we want a world-class fishery for those three species (red drum, speckled trout and striped bass), and a high-quality fishery for other species,” Albea said. “We can’t have Mother Nature, recreational and commercial fishing putting this much pressure on certain species, especially speckled trout.”

Albea has fought many battles successfully for natural resources at the North Carolina coast, including opposing a proposed paper mill and barges on the Roanoke River “smack in the middle of the best striped bass spawning grounds on the east coast,” plus the OLF – “a 7-year battle against the Navy” – and more recently, proposed windmills in the same area as the OLF.

But Albea always has preferred to remain in the background as an idea man and technical advisor.

“I’ve never used Carolina Outdoors Journal to promote any position,” he said. “It’s just a fishing show, mainly. Oh, I’ve been accused of using the show to promote positions, but that’s never been true and never will happen.”

Now, however, he’s stepping forward.

“In my opinion, (the saltwater fisheries decline in North Carolina) is a problem that’s been building over 30 years,” Albea said, “and we’ve all, recreational and commercial fishermen, contributed to it in certain ways.

And now we need to fix it.”
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Thursday - we need to be in Raleigh to support gamefish status.

Post  fishgent on Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:42 pm

I plan to be in Raleigh on Thursday to show my support for Gamefish status for the Redfish, Spotted Sea Trout and Striped Bass. Anybody else interested in joining? It is important we speak-up to ensure this resource is here for future generations. Florida's recent annoucement about increasing limits for these fish is driectly related to proper management.

I will be leaving Southern Pines area around 11:15.



The Legislative Research Commission Committee on Marine Fisheries will meet at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 2, 2012, in Room 643 of the Legislative Office Building, Raleigh, North Carolina to discuss the details of Gamefish Status for Redfish, Spotted Sea Trout and Striped Bass. Please Note: Limitedpublic comment is scheduled to be taken at this meeting.
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Re: Gamefish Status

Post  07_hemi_thunderroad on Wed Feb 01, 2012 10:00 pm

Thanks for all of the great information on this! I am really hoping this bill passes! I really enjoy coastal fishing with my friends and family and i hope my son gets a chance to land a nice slot red drum on day! Once again thats for the info on this hot topic!
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Re: Gamefish Status

Post  Backlash on Fri Feb 03, 2012 1:14 pm

In this clip, hear how gamefish status for redfish has impacted fishing in other states.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tNwlAsj7tU
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February 2, 2012, Committee on Marine Fisheries

Post  fishgent on Fri Feb 03, 2012 6:55 pm

First let me stated that I was very pleased with the turnout of people supporting Gamefish status for the Red Drum, Speckled Trout and Stripped Bass. Most observers in the room proudly wore a sticker in support. Most of those who will read this would have known many of the faces; Joe Albea, Ricky Kellum, Jerry Dilsaver, etc.,etc., ……..the list goes on, and on.



The meeting started with Rep. Darrell McCormick calling it to order and reviewing the standard items. Committee Counsel Jeff Hudson reviewed several handouts provided to the committee and made available to those attending. Handouts are available on the NCGA webpage (http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/DocumentSites/browseDocSite.asp?nID=175&sFolderName=\Meetings\2-02-2012\Handouts and Presentations). The handout which interested this individual the most was the Draft Gamefish Designation Map which showed which states allowed fishing for Red Fish, Speckled Trout and Stripped Bass. The map has a legend which indicates it is supposed to show states that allow gill nets but the copy I have does not show that data. To get this data, reference the handout titled D. Petty – handout. You will need to go to the last two pages, but be sure to read the complete document. Notice that NC is the only state allowing large mesh gill nets in estuaries – with the exception that Georgia allows them for shad fishing.

After reviewing handouts, the comments from stakeholders were the next. Sean McKeon (President NC Fisheries Assoc.), Willie Etheridge (Owner Etheridge Seafood) and Bill Hitchcock (Saltwater Catch Radio Show Host) spoke against the Gamefish bill. All of these indivduals were well spoken, but I believe the benefits to the state and economy are far great with a gamefish bill. people have to think out of the box -- who moved that damn cheese.....

Some key points that Mr. McKeon claimed that I would like to mention here is his statements that “it is a sad day for working families that this bill would lead to high unemployment.” He went on to say that "the science did not support the bill because the fisheries are in good condition." He claimed that only 5% of the beach going people fished therefore 95% would be excluded from enjoying seafood if the bill passed. I can only guess that Mr. McKeon was refusing to take in consideration that…” in 2010 only 1114 commercial participants caught one or more of these species and of the 1114 only 87 made in excess of $2000 from these species “ (quoted from CCA talking points). In 2009 these species also made up only 2% of the commercial catch in NC waters. I guess I am befuddled in how these statics support his claim that by passing the Gamefish legislation, 95% of North Carolina residence would not have access to NC seafood. Furthermore, as one of the speakers in favor of the Gamefish bill stated, I have eaten at MANY seafood restaurants around this State and not once seen Red Fish on the menu. Mr. McKeon also pointed out that recreational fishermen kill millions more (did not catch whether he was talking fish or pounds) than commercial fishermen. In my fishing history, and I can attest for many of you, that when I catch fish I am not going to eat or is out of season, that I revive and release the fish. If a fish is captured in a net (gill, trawler, etc.) there is usually not the chance to revive and release. Once again the unspoken claim was that the gamefish bill is for the rich elitist. I will address this point in just a minute.

Mr., Etheridge, fishermen from many generations, claims that the bill would not protect the specific species of fish. He claimed that if the bill passed, the commercial fishermen would only set more nets to try and catch different fish. His claim only supports the argument of what fishing methods should be allowed in NC waters.

Mr. Hitchcock, a radio host, made a very emphatic plead against the bill on behalf of the commercial fishermen. He appeared to be taking quotes from the CCA and trying to use them to influence the committee to vote against the legislation. Mr. Hitchcock, while a very good orator, seemed did not drive any points hom ein my opinion.

Individuals who spoke in favor of the legislation were:

Seth Vernon, owner Double Haul Guide Service

Captain Richard Andrews, Tam-Pam Guide Service

Donald Willis, Owner Custom Marine and Fabrication

Chris Medlin, Owner East Coast Sports

Jim Hardin, Compliance Manager Grady White Boats

Ray Brown, Recreational fisherman from Goldsboro



Every one of these individuals did an excellent job stating reasons why the Gamefish legislation needs to be passed. Most were well versed on the statics available in the CCA talking points in favor of the gamefish bill (http://www.joincca.org/media%20room/North_Carolina/Briefing_353.pdf). A few points that are not in that document which I believe were important and need to be restated:

1. Ray Brown told the story of the river herring and how a few, I believe he stated 13; commercial fishermen lobbied to keep restriction off the fishery and now the fishery no longer exist. This small group of individual influence a decision which led to the fishery disappearing forever and the jobs related to the fishery disappearing forever.

2. Only 87 commercial people made more than $2000 in 2010 from the species that would be protected under the gamefish legislation. The number of jobs created from recreational fishermen going to the coast and targeting these species is more than 87 and these jobs pay more than $2000 a year. From hotel staff, restaurant workers, marina personnel, charter captains, etc.

3. We, North Carolina, have a great estuary system. By proper management we could have a red fishers and speckled trout fishery that would compete to Louisiana. Author’s note - In 10 years, we could become a leading recreational fishery. I have talked for several years about going to Louisiana to Red Fish. We could have that fishery here with the PROPER management. I would be interested is researching Louisiana’s recreational fishing dollar increases since they started managing their fishery.

One of the most damning statement I believe I heard… Dr. Louis Daniels was asked by a senator whether his department had taken a position on the Gamefish bill. It appeared that he stated that his department was not supporting the legislation. As soon as I can verify his exact comments, I will post. I believe his statement was that the legislation was contrary to his departments mission: Mission


The Division of Marine Fisheries is dedicated to ensuring sustainable marine and estuarine fisheries and habitats for the benefit and health of the people of North Carolina.

He claimed that the Red Fish and Speckled Trout stock was in good shape and that the fish stock they surveyed this year, which will be next year’s slot size, was in great shape. He said that next year should be a great year for Red Fishing.

After listening to Dr. Daniels statement, I have great concern about the Gamefish bill. Many of us have been fishing in NC waters for years and I believe most of you will state that the fish you are catching are smaller and harder to find. We all need to be writing our representatives and senators and let them know our thoughts. We are voters and our opinion should be taken in consideration on how they vote. I know their decision will affect my vote in the future.

Spending a couple hours listening to our state government at work, I took advantage of being in Raleigh and stopped by the boat show. I bring this up not to rub in the fact that I got to drool on some new boats, but to share a conversation I had with a Ranger representative. We started talking about the Gamefishing legislation. He stated that he has been in the business for 20+ years. He remembers when this same issue was occurring in Florida. Once it passed, many of the commercial fishermen who were adamantly against the legislation bought bay boats and skiffs – he had to point out that they did not buy rangers but something cheaper – traded their nets for four rods, got their captain’s license and started chartering. They now make more money, and going home much earlier than before without the everyday sore back.
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one addiitonal item from meeting

Post  fishgent on Fri Feb 03, 2012 7:14 pm

One item I forgot to mention was that Dr. Daniels mentions that the Atlantic Sturgeon has been placed on the endangered species list for NC waters. this means that the Department of Marine Fisheries will have to increase monitoring and if that are 3 interactions (sturgeon caught in nets), the fisheries will be closed.
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Re: Gamefish Status

Post  Backlash on Fri Feb 03, 2012 9:18 pm

Thanks for the summary, Chris. It's truly sad that North Carolina seems to be completely committed to this road to ruin.
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Re: Gamefish Status

Post  fishgent on Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:13 pm

A story we all should read. Ray Brown shared this experience as part of his presentation to the NCMFC a few weeks back.


Mismanagement of river herring warns of NCMFC's commercial bias, veteran rec angler says


Goldsboro man fears poor fisheries management could send speckled trout the way of the river herring.


By Craig Holt

[url=http://www.northcarolinasportsman.com/details.php?id=2378#]1[/url]

3 hours ago | Mobile Reader | Print

USFWS photo

River herring crashed because of mismanagement by the NCMRC even as state biologists warned continued commercial netting was detrimental, and at least one recreational angler says he fears the same thing could happen with speckled trout.
As commercial and recreational saltwater fishing interests duke out their positions online and at meetings of the legislature’s Committee on Marine Resources, Ray Brown of Goldsboro remains one of the most eloquent speakers on behalf of coastal resources.

Brown worries that the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission hasn’t learned from one of its most-egregious mistakes – allowing river herring to disappear – and may be on the road to repeating it with speckled trout.

“I’m a native of Colerain, a town in Bertie County, once known as the ‘Fresh Water Herring Capital of the World,’” Brown said. “I was an eyewitness to the greatest failure of fishery management ever to befall North Carolina.

"That collapse is the driving force within me to stay engaged in fishery issues. I pray I never see anything like that again.”

North Carolina’s sounds and tributary streams, such as the Roanoke, Chowan, Cashie, Middle and Eastmost rivers, once teemed with alewives and blueback herring (collectively called “river” herring).

Documents from 1914 show 999 pound nets – just in the Chowan and western Pamlico Sound – collected 20 million herring. Annual harvests in coastal waters from 1880 to 1970 averaged 12 million pounds, and that doesn’t include the ocean netters’ take of herring, for which even imprecise figures aren’t available.

After years of crushing pressure, the herring stock started a predictable crash dive, watched in alarm by Brown and many others, including biologists with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries. More reproducing fish were being taken out than could replenish their numbers. The biologists knew it, and they told commissioners that herring harvests needed to stop. The scientists were met with silence, because a handful of netters were making money netting herring.

With the stock collapse getting closer each year, the Commission set a 300,000-pound quota from the Chowan-Pamlico-Albemarle system for 2000 through 2005 (even though the total catch was about half that figure). In November 2003, provided with more evidence of an impending herring disaster, the Commission refused to stop the netting but dropped to a 100,000-pound “emergency-interim” quota. The agency finally instituted a total ban on river herring harvest in 2006.

Too late. The herring were gone. They have never returned.

Recreational anglers and groups now pleading with the legislature are afraid a similar scenario could develop for spotted seatrout, supporting a bill that would declare specks, red drum and striped bass as gamefish, prohibiting any commercial harvest.

Although specks are prolific breeders, there aren’t nearly as many as the pre-collapse herring population. The NCDMF has classified specks as overfished for the past 19 years, plus, the fish are susceptible to cold-water events that stun or kill them.

“During the last decade of commercial herring fishing, 17 commercial fishermen on average annually participated at a time when our biologists were begging for harvesting to stop,” Brown said. “But these 17 found the political allies to keep harvest open so (they) could split $90,000 per year.

“Today, the fishermen are out of business, and the herring are gone, perhaps forever. The thousands of North Carolina citizens who enjoyed herring runs have lost that experience for the economic gain of 17 people. Now that’s greedy.”

NCDMF statistics indicate that a very few commercial fishermen are making much money netting speckled trout on an annual basis, and that has Brown looking both forward and backward.

“Whether the 89 (commercial fishermen) will make their $2,000 or so per year going forward as long as the stocks hold up or the masses will find their angling experience in North Carolina year after year for generations yet to come is not within my power to decide,” Brown said.

“Only (the committee) can determine through legislation, if the herring story is an aberration, or if the future once again will show that the experience of the many will be forsaken for the dollars of the few.”

Follow the fight to protect North Carolina’s fisheries on the dedicated Game Fish Status page.

We encourage our users to email the members of the committee, demanding that gamefish status be given to red drum, speckled trout and stripers. Just click on the names of the committee members below and send them a short note:

Harry Brown
Don East
Thom Goolsby
Bill Rabon
Tommy Tucker
Jean Preston
Stan White
Darrell McCormick
Dan Ingle
Ruth Samuelson
Danny McComas
Bryan Holloway
Pat McElraft
Tim Spear
Brent Jackson
Tom Murry

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