Proposed shrimping regulations worry coastal NC fishermen

nc-shrimp

MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (WNCT) – The N.C. Wildlife Federation submitted a petition earlier in November calling for restrictions on shrimp trawling along the coast, saying more regulations are necessary to protect important nursery areas.

But local long-time fishermen in eastern North Carolina don’t necessarily agree, and the regulations on catching shrimp could have detrimental effects on the industry.

“If the consumer is looking for fresh, local seafood, I think these regulations like this will put fisherman out of business and make the American consumer to have to buy more imports,” said Jack Cox of Blue Ocean Market. “That’s something that we don’t want to do.”

The petition includes restrictions like limiting trawling to three days per week, limiting head rope length to 90 feet and making nets smaller.

“It’s also asking that they limit tow times to 45 minutes and that they open Pamlico Sound on a shrimp count,” said Patricia Smith, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.

The count would require 60-count shrimp, or 60 shrimp per pound, in the Pamilico Sound before trawling would be allowed in those waters.

In a statement, the federation said they are “trying to ensure the survival and sustainability of our fish stocks, which will allow both the commercial and recreational fishing industries to thrive. Right now, neither is thriving.”

Others involved in the fishing industry in our state are less certain about that.

“There’s been a long-term agenda to do away with shrimping in North Carolina inside waters and also to do away with gillnets and it’s our contention that this is part of the agenda to do just that,” said Jerry Schill, N.C. Fisheries Association.

The commission has 120 days to accept or deny a petition, and a decision could be made as early as next February.