Trawling Ban Voted Down

Published 10:33 am Thursday, August 8, 2013

A proposal to close North Carolina’s sound and rivers to trawlers has stalled.

A petition brought by Tim Hergenrader, a New Bern man was heard by a joint meeting of the Finfish, Habitat and Water Quality, Sea Turtle and Shellfish-Crustacean Advisory Committees at a meeting in New Bern.

“The advisory committees did not give official reasons for their motions to recommend that the Marine Fisheries Commission deny the petition, although the Habitat and Water Quality Committee asked the commission to deny the petition with prejudice, stating there was a lack of scientific data to support it,” said Patricia Smith, Public Information Officer for the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries

The committees met at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center to hear the request petition, and to give interested persons a chance to air their feelings on the issue.

After several hours of statements from the large crowd, the four committees voted separately on the recommendation they would make regarding accepting or rejecting the petition. Within a few minutes all voted to reject it with only one dissenting vote from within the shellfish committee and one abstention in the sea turtle committee.

A petition filed by Megan Spencer of Ocracoke reached 3,485 signatures on reached 3,485 signatures before the meeting.

“Local businesses, fishing families and coastal communities depend on catches from trawlers – namely shrimp – as a source of economic commerce, as well as locally-grown, organic protein. More than 90 percent of all shrimp consumed in the country is imported. By designating the state’s inland waters as permanent secondary nursery areas, they would be closed to trawling. If that were to happen, North Carolina would loose a considerable amount of income to foreign competition, as well as access to this bountiful resource and a historic profession among generations of coastal citizens. Secondary nursery areas are already in place to protect habitat in inland waters. Please don’t close the entire area to trawling,” reads an online version of the petition.

Any decision will not be official until the Marine Fisheries Commission meets in late August.