How to fix a Pamlico Sound estuarine system

Published 4:52 pm Friday, February 12, 2016

To the Editor:

It’s my responsibility as a fisherman to help this estuarine to survive for generations to come. I have a lot of knowledge in fishing because I have 30 years experience in commercial fishing and 60 years in sport fishing. One hundred percent of my work income came from the second largest estuarine system in the country, and it is the backbone of North Carolina fisheries because it is the second largest nursery in the United States.

I and other commercial fisherman who at one time depend on finfish for our living, and the recreational fishermen that have any experience fishing in the Pamlico Sound estuarine, we all know this system is not as healthy today in many different marine species as it was several decades ago. Some of the declines in species are spot, croaker, butterfish, southern flounder, summer flounder, gray trout and oysters.

What can fisheries management do in 2016 to improve these marine species? In the Pamlico Sound estuarine, they need to make it a primary nursery area. It will protect the most productive marine bottom habitat in the United States. It will protect thousands of acres of prime oyster bottom. It will improve water quality because it will stop these trawl boats from dragging their heavy nets across bottom, re-suspending thousands of tons of bottom sediment that are put back in the water column, which also contributes to the further degradation of habitat of all present marine life. It will stop the killing of millions of pounds of baby fish and adult finfish and other marine species that are now destroyed as by-catch in the shrimp trawl fishery. We know these millions of pounds of wasted resources are resources we can no longer depend on for commercial or recreational fishing. It’s having a negative impact on our finfish populations.

My common sense tells me these baby fish are our future if our fisheries management will protect these important juvenile fish and their bottom habitat. The populations will promptly recover, and it will stop these species from being overfished. There are more people today in North Carolina who depend on these marine species that are being destroyed by the shrimp trawl fishery than they do on shrimp that are being caught in our estuarine waters. Our politicians, with little knowledge of fishing, need to understand these millions of pounds of wasted resource are costing North Carolina $25 million or more in revenue every year, also jobs.

Our new politicians, and our new Marine Fisheries Commission, if they are going to allow these baby finfish and baby oysters to survive, they’ve got to make the Pamlico Sound estuarine system a primary nursery area.


Dallas Ormond Sr.