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A tale of two bills....

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Ray Brown View Drop Down
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    Posted: 11 July 2017 at 10:49am
There were two bills in the NC legislature this year that created quite a stir. One has been passed and is now law and one still has life but languishes in committee and can not get a vote.

One poses the greatest threat ever, to the commercial fishing industry in this state while the other would guarantee it and the resource a future. But you'd never know which was which by listening to some folks.

HB 867 advocates that science and a philosophy of abundance be the cornerstone of fishery management in NC's waters going forward. The future within it would be changes in recreational uses of certain species and a worst case scenario for traditional commercial fishermen would be the loss of entanglement gear, but increased opportunities for "entrapment gear" such as pound nets and pots.   Rod and reel commercial fisheries that don't exist here, but do exist in other states would be opened up as the stocks would allow and the shrimp industry on the inside would, in a worst case scenario, see a movement to skimmer gear versus otter gear, but a future for shrimp harvest in the sounds while maintaining the aesthetic as well as cultural heritage of shrimp harvest in a changing world.   HB 867 would evoke change, but a change in harmony with two existing industries. It remains tucked in a committee.

Senate Bill 410 has been passed.

For twenty years the commercial fishing industry of NC has pointed to farm raised seafood as the absolute worst way to provide protein and points out all the disadvantages of growing finfish in pens and nets in open natural waters. The industry has lamented the fact that aquaculture undercuts market value of seafood and that wild caught can no longer compete and would be left to selling on a spot market that no long term plans can be based on. Their concerns in that case are true.

SB 410 brings the worst of aquaculture into the daily view of those who feared it. It puts those pens in the same water that the wild caught industry and we recs operate today and it does it without any containment system for waste, either in over feeding waste, or the simple waste of the species themselves. God never put animals in one place and thought that they could feed and crap and never move. Buffalo roam and so do fish. He did put some animals in large clusters such as oysters who could survive such concentrations due to symbiotic needs, but how can you expect a roaming animal to grow in one small area without problems? More on that later.

Can you imagine what will happen to the NC crab industry if we have the problems here that these pens have brought to Canada and other places? What about the oysters when chemicals are sprayed on these pen raised fish in the open sound? Oysters do clean the water, but they aren't built to remove pesticides from the water.

NC has successful finfish aquaculture going on now, but not in tidal waters. Those catfish, tilapia, rainbow trout, and sturgeon operations are in closed ponds or tanks where the waste from excess food or intestinal waste is contained and not allowed to seep into the wild.   Before you say that hogs, cows, chickens, and turkeys all roamed too and are now raised in large concentrations I'll acknowledge, but then you have to acknowledge that the largest problem with those remains what to do with their waste and after twenty years or so and dealing with that it still remains a huge problem for that industry.

Aqua culturally raised fish have waste too and with SB 410, as written, it will go directly into our rivers and sounds.

No law ever proposed in NC presents a greater threat to fishing in state waters than SB 410 and no one seemed to notice it or care.

Today, both recreational fishermen and commercial fishermen alike, are calling the Governor and asking that SB 410 be vetoed, but as of yet there is no reply.

HB 867 seeks to manage wild fish in NC for abundance and would maintain a viable commercial fishery albeit with some changes in size and types of gear, but from the very beginning it focused on retaining a wild caught fishery in NC.

SB 410's whole purpose is to provide an alternative to wild caught commercial fishing in NC and provide commercial markets with product that is consistent in both supply and price. As written these corporate operations would be able to allow uneaten food and intestinal waste simply float away from the pens without containment or treatment.

The esthetics of NC's waterways along with their harmony with nature is protected by HB 867 and destroyed by SB 410.

With declining fish stocks in NC it is obvious that something needs to change, but in which direction?

For me, it is obvious, and while I know aquaculture in a contained form is the future in many respects, I can look anyone in the eye and tell them that if HB 867 were to pass that they have a future in fishing in NC, but with changes that would have to be made so that the stocks themselves would survive. There is no such promise, implied or otherwise, with SB 410. It's sole purpose is to replace wild caught commercial fishing in NC, but in doing so there is a good chance, based on events around the world, that the quality of commercial fishing and the aesthetic beauty of NC would all be sacrificed so a few can have their pens.

That's why I favor HB 867 and worry about what SB 410 presents to NC in the long run.   Can someone tell me why coastal legislators and the dues taking commercial fishing organization known as the NC Fishery Association see it exactly opposite?

Are they claiming jobs? Fish pens allow people to work on the water for a wage. I get that, but for those wages you work when told and do what you are told. With HB 867 the goal is to have abundant stocks and while one is told what gear, when it can be used, and how much can be extracted from the wild their day is still up to the will of the fishermen themselves and the freedom to enjoy pretty much on your own.

Pens are also known as traps for a reason.


Edited by Ray Brown - 11 July 2017 at 11:16am
Some trawl operator will be forced to change in order to reduce bycatch. If you worry about that more than stopping the bycatch then the resource is secondary to you. Recovery has one less advocate.
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jtoler View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jtoler Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 July 2017 at 12:14pm
I doubt that a Canadian based company with current operations will seek a workforce from Down East North Carolina. Unless, someone has already sold them one. 
Jill
Fly Fishing, messing with my mind since 2007.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bakesta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 July 2017 at 8:56pm
Ever get the feeling that the legislators just don't care???



Veto proof margin and unbeatable election districts have made them not the least bit worried about what we see happening to our marine resources.

They just don't care about our sounds, our fish, or our state as long as they get their own little pet peeves addressed.


Thanks for laying this all out Ray.  And thanks to CCA for calling out the republican leadership in the latest newsletter.

SB410 will allow pieces of our sounds and rivers to be sold forever more.  And the ugliness on the surface will not come close to the ugliness under the water once these pens are installed.  Water quality will no longer be a rallying cry of the commercial side - it will be a reality that they ignore so that one company can make a big profit.


"Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest." --- Mark Twain
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CapRandy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 July 2017 at 4:01pm
Ever get the feeling that the legislators just don't care???

          DUH !!!
Murder is killing but all killing is not murder
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