Shrimpers want access to the river

Published 9:05 am Wednesday, July 9, 2008

By Staff
Ask manager to deliver letter to state legislators
Staff Writer
Tony Ipock wants his nephew to replace him as a commercial fisherman someday. But right now the young man can’t make a living that way, even though there are plenty of shrimp in the Pamlico River, Ipock told Beaufort County commissioners Monday night.
That’s because state regulations bar trawling in the river.
The commissioners voted to ask Raleigh to allow shrimp trawling on the river from July 15 to Aug. 31 after a state official at the meeting said there was no way to create a shrimping season this year.
County Manager Paul Spruill was told to hand-deliver the resolution, which covers all the areas closed to trawling in 2006, to as many legislators as possible.
Cox and others want access to what they say is the best crop of shrimp they’ve seen in years.
The plan was open to public comment before it was adopted and the decision wasn’t made “flippantly,” Taylor said.
Commissioner Robert Cayton pushed Taylor for immediate action.
The plan will be reworked beginning July 2009, he said, and the fishermen could then work to reopen the river.
The shrimpers also brought commissioners concerns about “ghost pots” — crab pots that aren’t attached to lines or buoys and sit on the bottom of the river.
Cox said he believes ghost pots are responsible for more dead flounder than shrimpers would kill by trawling, because the traps kill anything that enters their funnel-shaped openings, effectively baiting the trap for its next victim.
The state works to pick up any unattended pots it finds in the early spring and could try to work with the shrimpers to find more that are sitting on the river’s bottom and to secure grant money for the process, Taylor said.
But that couldn’t happen before spring 2009, Taylor said.
The shrimpers’ third complaint was an overabundance of skates and rays in the areas they fish. They urged commissioners and Taylor to support those trying to develop a market for the rays. The commissioners passed a second resolution encouraging state help with clearing ghost pots and marketing skate meat.
An attempt to market the meat was made in the 1970s, but failed because of the meat’s taste and shipping costs, Taylor said.