Game-fish bill is bad legislation

Published 1:52 am Thursday, May 2, 2013

State Rep. Michael Speciale, a Republican from Craven County, is right. House Bill 983 is bad legislation.

Speciale and his colleague, Rep. Paul Tine, a Democrat from Dare County, are fighting against the bill, as they should. It is bad legislation. Tine and Speciale each said the bill forces state government to decree a winner and loser in the matter.

The bill would designate spotted sea trout, red drum and rockfish (striped bass) as coastal game fish in North Carolina waters. With that designation, those fish could only be caught by hook and line.

The bill ties dredging measures, compensation to some fishing industries and fisheries-observer program funding to making three species of fish only available to recreational fishermen.

“Dredging and fisheries management support needs to be a priority for the state all the time, not as a condition of giving up the right to fish certain species,” Tine said. “We should not be in the business of picking winners and losers by decreeing from Raleigh who can access these fish.  Right now, about 10 percent of the catch goes to commercial fishermen and the consumer. It is irresponsible to eliminate their access to a public-trust fishery to accommodate a special interest.”

Speciale has a similar view.

“The other thing is … there is no science saying that we need to do this, that we need to make them game fish. It’s purely an economic move. It’s government, once again, deciding winners and losers — we can make more money off of the sports fishermen if we keep the commercial fisherman from catching them in their nets and everything else. So, they’re willing to sacrifice the livelihood of part of the population to gain … economically from another part. It’s not something government ought to be doing.”

This bill, as Speciale said, should not see the light of day. It is bad legislation.