Martin commissioners want state to lift herring ban

Published 2:01 am Thursday, January 11, 2007

By Staff
County prepared to sue if necessary
By NIKIE MAYO, News Editor
Martin County commissioners voted Wednesday night to ask the state to lift a moratorium on fishing for river herring, a move that could become the precursor to a lawsuit.
The Martin County move comes just days before the Joint Legislative Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture meets to consider the state’s latest rules on herring harvesting. That meeting is set for Jan. 18.
Terry Pratt, a member of the Albemarle Fishermen’s Association, said a moratorium on herring in the area does not take into account cyclical herring-population patterns. He suggested modifying the resolution’s language to reflect that opinion.
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission approved a moratorium on river-herring fishing last March, modifying it slightly after an outcry.
Robert Curry, chief of inland fisheries for the commission, said the exception allows anglers to continue fishing for striped bass, using herring as bait without affecting migrating stocks of river herring. Adult herring on their spring spawning migrations are typically longer than 6 inches, Curry said, adding that most herring shorter than 6 inches that are caught for bait are taken with cast nets above dams.
Pratt said keeping such a move in place doesn’t do much good for Martin County.
Pratt suggested the state should allow at least 100,000 pounds of herring for commercial harvests and 25 fish per person per day for recreational anglers.
Martin County has been hosting a herring festival for nearly 60 years, he said, a reference to Jamesville’s annual fish festival.