Minimum-size North Carolina catch rules narrowly clear House

Jun 21, 2019

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's significant commercial and recreational marine fish species all would be subject to minimum-length catch thresholds in legislation that cleared one General Assembly chamber.

Thursday's 58-47 House vote didn't fall along party lines, as members were split on whether such restrictions would revive or decimate further declining fish stocks.

A 1997 law required state regulators to adopt fisheries management plans to discourage overfishing, but proposal supporters questioned their effectiveness. Bill sponsor Rep. Larry Yarborough of Person County called the minimum-size requirement a common-sense way to ensure more fish mature and reproduce.

But Rep. Keith Kidwell of Beaufort County said there's no proof the idea will work. Other opponents say the legislation — now heading to the Senate — is another step toward eliminating gill-net use by commercial fisherman.