ENC organization protesting the state's effort to renew commercial gillnetting permit
The State of North Carolina has asked the federal government to renew a permit that allows commercial fishermen to use gillnets.
Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina Executive Director David Sneed said not only do current harvest limits on Southern flounder mean this sort of mass harvest method is unnecessary, but it’s also quite detrimental to endangered species like sea turtles and Atlantic sturgeon.
PRE’s Annette Weston-Riggs asked how the gillnets are allowable when there's a state statute that prohibits harming or killing sea turtles.
“That's a really good question,” Sneed said, “And that's part of the question that we put forth to the national Marine Fisheries Service to, you know, to try to answer that inequity. I mean, that doesn't seem to make any sense.”
Sneed said the use of gill nets proliferated in the 1990s and the permit is, “Sanctioning the use of gear that's no longer needed to harvest the primary species that it's intended for.”
That’s because Sneed says the use of pound nets and gigs, which was the primary gear prior to the rise of gillnetting, is sufficient for commercial fisherman to pull in a substantial catch within current harvest limits.
He said the nets have also contributed to the decline in the Southern flounder population along the eastern North Carolina coast.
Last week, the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries announced that there would be no recreational spring Southern Flounder season in ENC.
Read more: NWRC: No spring recreational season for Southern Flounder in NC
Public comment on the permit renewal is open through Wednesday, February 22. Those comments can be submitted HERE.