Game-fish bill tabled

Published 5:29 pm Friday, May 31, 2013

A bill that would designate some fish in the state’s coastal waters as game fish will not be heard during the current session of the N.C. General Assembly, according to state Rep. Paul Tine, D-Dare County.

“I spoke with the bill sponsor this evening (Wednesday) after the bill was considered in the majority caucus and he assured me the bill will not be run or folded into the budget,” said Tine. “It was truly a bipartisan effort to defeat the bill, and it would not have happened without all the work of the opponents who made sure their voice would be heard in Raleigh.”

House Bill 983, if passed, would designate red drum, spotted sea trout and rockfish (striped bass) as game fish that could only be caught by hook and line. Effectively, it would ban commercial fishermen from catching the three types of fish.

After growing opposition, the bill sponsor sought the will of the Republican Caucus and found that opposition there, combined with a significant number of votes in the Democratic Caucus, would make it difficult for the bill to move through committee, according to the release.

“This bill pitted the recreational interests against the commercial fisherman, the consumer, the fish houses, the restaurants and the seafood stores,” Tine said. “The bill sponsor was fair in the process, allowing all sides to be heard; and in the end, most legislators decided that it was best that all sides have access to these public-trust fisheries.”

Tine and Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven County, told the Daily News last month they oppose the bill. Each legislator said the bill is bad legislation

Several supporters of the bill have said designating the fish as game fish would not adversely affect commercial fishermen because they don’t catch that many red drum, rockfish and spotted sea trout in their nets.

Bill opponents have said the legislation is nothing more than an attempt by special-interest groups to prevent commercial fishermen from catching the fish. They said the state should be working to protect and preserve the state’s commercial fishing industry instead of burdening it with more regulations.The commercial fishing industry is a vital part of the state’s economy, especially in coastal areas, bill opponents said.

The bill’s primary sponsors are Reps. Tom Murry, R-Wake County; Michael Wray, D-Northampton County; Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe County and John R. Bell IV, R-Wayne County. The bill, filed April 17, was passed by the state House on its first reading April 18.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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