Hyde passes resolution against shrimp-trawling petition

Published 6:10 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2017

SWAN QUARTER — Hyde County Board of Commissioners is making sure the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission knows where it stands on shrimp trawling.

At Monday’s board meeting, the commissioners passed a resolution detailing its concern with the Commission’s mid-February vote to approve a petition for rulemaking, which allows officials to draft new, stricter rules for shrimp trawling.

The N.C. Wildlife Federation and the Southern Environmental Law Center filed the petition in November 2016, asking for a reduction in the number of days shrimpers can trawl, as well as designating all coastal waters not already designated as special secondary nursery areas and detailing what gear can be used.

Hyde’s Board of Commissioners outlines many reasons for its resolution, including: “the shrimp fishery is North Carolina’s most important fishery economically;” “the proposals will have a substantial economic impact on many small businesses, have significant negative effects on coastal communities and negatively impact the availability of North Carolina shrimp to consumers;” and the “decision was not within the spirit of the Fisheries Reform Act, which calls for science to make decisions and not political science.”

“Hyde County stands firm in its opposition to the trawl ban. We believe the decision by the NC DMF Commission was not based on science, nor did it take into account economic repercussions, but rather was based on politics and special interests,” Hyde County Assistant Manager Kris Noble wrote in an email Tuesday.

The N.C. Wildlife Federation, however, maintains that the petition is an attempt to protect juvenile fish habitats and reduce bycatch, which is when fish are unintentionally caught in shrimp-trawling nets.

“The millions of juvenile fish wasted and lost each year are a heavy toll on other fisheries and the future survival of those fisheries. The Federation notes that the petition is research-based, data-driven and the culmination of a two-year-plus effort to balance the needs of the commercial shrimping industry with the need to protect important habitat areas that sustain and benefit all fishermen,” the Federation stated in a press release.