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CCA-NC Files Suit in State Court- Nov 10, 2020

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    Posted: 11 November 2020 at 12:56pm

CCA NC and 86 Citizens File Lawsuit Against the State for Coastal Fisheries Mismanagement

 

Press Release November 10, 2020

Citing the State of North Carolina’s “abject failure” in meeting its legal duties to properly manage coastal fisheries resources on behalf of North Carolina’s current and future citizens, the Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina, along with 86 North Carolinians, filed a civil action on November 10 against the State in Wake County Superior Court.

The plaintiffs include five former members of the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission and citizens who reside in 29 counties across the state.

The suit is based on the State’s longstanding, public-trust responsibilities to manage coastal fish stocks in a way that protects the public-trust rights of the public, as incorporated in the North Carolina Constitution, to fish in North Carolina’s coastal waters. The complaint points out that coastal fisheries resources are held by the State in trust for the benefit of all current and future North Carolina citizens.

The State has failed to meet that legal duty, however, instead allowing for-profit exploitation of coastal fisheries resources by fewer than 7,000 citizens to supplant the public rights of 11 million citizens to use coastal fisheries resources. The complaint attributes the State’s policy to “regulatory capture,” where the State’s regulatory agencies ultimately become co-opted to serve the commercial interests they are charged with regulating. The complaint is clear, however, that law-abiding commercial fishing license holders are not directly responsible for the poor state of North Carolina’s coastal fish stocks. Instead, the complaint explains that the root cause of the demise of those stocks is the State’s mismanagement of its coastal fisheries resources.

The complaint sets forth in detail specific evidence of the decades-long, uninterrupted, and dramatic overall decline in coastal fish stocks in North Carolina, and the demise of several specific fish stocks historically significant to the fishing public. The complaint discusses evidence of that decline, including fish stock age truncation, overall non-viability of coastal fish stocks, declining commercial landings, and reduced public harvest limits.

The evidence of the State’s failure to meet its obligations with respect to coastal fisheries resources is overwhelming, according to the complaint: “Stocks in multiple fish species like river herring, Southern flounder, striped bass, spot, croaker and weakfish have declined precipitously since the late 1980s, with little to no will or effort by the State to implement the measures necessary to recover those stocks.”

The complaint cites three critical State management failures that have infringed on the public’s right to fish for personal use: (1) facilitating commercial fishing practices and gears that cause staggering amounts of resource wastage; (2) allowing chronic overfishing of multiple fish stocks historically important to the fishing public to cause stock demise; and (3) disregarding a lack of reporting of any harvest by over half of all State commercial fishing license holders.

On the first of these failures, the State has allowed long-term shrimp trawling in estuarine areas populated with juvenile fish and has facilitated a proliferation in the use of unattended gillnets. The complaint contends that because both practices result in enormous resource wastage, “all other southeastern states have either banned the practices or imposed management controls that severely curtail their wastage.” Citing extensive evidence, the complaint contends that the resource wastage caused by the State’s mismanagement has decimated North Carolina’s spot, weakfish (grey trout) and Atlantic croaker stocks, and contributed significantly to the overfishing of Southern flounder and striped bass.

Notably, the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries’ own studies indicate that hundreds of millions of juvenile spot, croaker and weakfish are killed and wasted annually by the shrimp trawl fishery alone. For every pound of shrimp harvested in North Carolina sounds, 3.3 pounds of juvenile finfish are killed and wasted. By the State’s own analysis in 2018, that ratio equated to about 100 million spot and 800 million croaker wasted in 2014, the complaint notes. This is many times the combined Atlantic shrimp trawl fishery spot and croaker bycatch for South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, by a margin of 7.5 to 1. As a result of this wastage, stocks of spot, Atlantic croaker, and gray trout have declined from 84 to 98 percent since the State’s last major fisheries management reform legislation was passed in 1997.

The complaint also cites the fact that the NC Division of Marine Fisheries obtained and holds on behalf of commercial gillnetters two Incidental Take Permits under the federal Endangered Species Act, so that gillnetting can continue in North Carolina waters despite the harm gillnets cause to fish stocks and threatened and endangered sea turtles and Atlantic sturgeon. The permits are one of many indications of regulatory capture, the suit charges.

As a second “critical management failure,” the complaint goes into an in-depth history of how State-tolerated, chronic, long-term overfishing led to the demise of river herring, draconian reductions in the Southern flounder harvest, and the near collapse of striped bass in the state’s southern rivers.

As far back as 1989, State data indicated southern flounder stocks were overfished, and that overfishing was actively occurring. After decades of inaction, draconian reductions in the harvest of Southern flounder have now become necessary to end overfishing of that stock. Even so, the suit charges, the State has acted with no sense of urgency to end overfishing and attain a sustainable harvest as required by the Fisheries Reform Act of 1997. As David Sneed, Executive Director of CCA NC notes, recent data indicate that “the drastic Southern flounder harvest reductions finally put into place in 2019 and 2020 are inadequate and are falling far short of their stated goals.”

North Carolina striped bass management also illustrates the State’s failure to address overfishing of public-trust fisheries resources, and the loss of public-trust rights resulting from that mismanagement, the suit explains. In the 1990s, the State imposed substantial harvest restrictions to turn around sagging striped bass stocks in the Albemarle Sound Management Area. The State, however, did not apply those same restrictions to the striped bass stocks in the Central and Southern Management Area, even after they worked to restore the Albemarle Sound stock. As a result, the more southern North Carolina striped bass stocks have collapsed, and the only reason that any striped bass are in southern rivers is a federal stocking program that costs taxpayers $750,000 annually.

The State’s third critical management failure pertains to the State’s approach to commercial fishing licenses. The State’s data show that over the last decade, 58 percent of North Carolina’s commercial fishing licensees annually reported no landings, for any trip, even though North Carolina law requires that all landings be reported and recorded. If those “latent licenses” are not being used for fishing, they still represent an enormous commercial harvest potential that could be brought to bear at any moment. Substantially more likely, according to evidence cited in the complaint, those licenses are fished without their landings being recorded and reported to the Division, making stocks seem more abundant than they really are.

The complaint asks the Court to declare that the State has breached its legal obligations to properly manage coastal fisheries resources, as well as a permanent injunction to stop the State from committing further breaches of these obligations. In short, the complaint seeks to hold the State accountable for failing to manage our coastal fisheries resources for the benefit of all North Carolinians.

The lead attorneys in the lawsuit are Keith Johnson and Drew Erteschik at Poyner Spruill LLP, who will work closely with Dr. Tim Nifong, CCA NC’s General Counsel.

There are at least three ways you can assist in this fight:

First, you can contribute to the legal fund for this lawsuit. 100% of your contribution will go toward funding the legal costs of the lawsuit.

Second, you can potentially join the lawsuit as a co-plaintiff. While there are rules that must be followed, any state citizen who fishes on the coast, or any environmental non-profit organization, public saltwater fishing organization, or environmental justice organization that operates in North Carolina and has in interest in halting the demise of state public-trust fisheries resources is welcome to join our lawsuit. To find out more about joining the suit, contact David Sneed at david@ccanc.org.

Third, you can become a member of CCA NC by clicking the “join the fight!” link below, joining with other conservationists to solidify the voice for change with respect to responsible public fisheries resource management.

 

Introduction & Summary of lawsuit

Click here to Join the Fight!

Read the full complaint here:

2020-11-10 Complaint (CCA)_Part1

2020-11-10 Complaint (CCA)_Part2

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NC Fisheries Management- Motto: Too Little, Too Late, Too Bad   Slogan: Shrimp On! Mission Statement: Enable Commercial Fishing At Any and All Cost, Regardless of Impact to the Resource.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 November 2020 at 3:06pm

It's a long read at 113 pages.

I encourage everyone to take the time to read it in it's entirety. It includes a comprehensive history with clear language and precise supporting data.

It gets my vote as the #1 Best Seller for 2020...A Tragedy of The Commons facilitated through Regulatory Capture helped by good ol' greed and political corruption. 

Please support the cause with a donation if you are so inclined.

Thank you from the heart to many members of this board that I see listed as plaintiffs!

Part 1

Part 2





Edited by Rick - 12 November 2020 at 3:07pm
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NC Fisheries Management- Motto: Too Little, Too Late, Too Bad   Slogan: Shrimp On! Mission Statement: Enable Commercial Fishing At Any and All Cost, Regardless of Impact to the Resource.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Get Bowed Up Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 November 2020 at 11:09am
What exactly is the corrective action being requested here??

No inside trawlers, better reporting requirements, no unattended gillnets, "better" bag limits ???
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote marker39 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 November 2020 at 6:25pm
Originally posted by Get Bowed Up Get Bowed Up wrote:

What exactly is the corrective action being requested here??

No inside trawlers, better reporting requirements, no unattended gillnets, "better" bag limits ???

All of the above sounds good to me.

Which ones would you suggest?

BW#2
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 November 2020 at 10:37am
Originally posted by marker39 marker39 wrote:

Originally posted by Get Bowed Up Get Bowed Up wrote:

What exactly is the corrective action being requested here??

No inside trawlers, better reporting requirements, no unattended gillnets, "better" bag limits ???

All of the above sounds good to me.

Which ones would you suggest?

BW#2
 

Billy-  As NC's proxy representative to the ASMFC which of those measures will you support to help stem the decline of spot and croaker, and help the depleted weakfish recover.  The ASMFC latest stock assessments for croaker and spot identified bycatch in the shrimp trawl fishery as the single largest source (90%+ for croaker) of total annual mortality.  ASMFC has yet to include trawl bycatch mortality in the weakfish stock assessment.  I'd greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 November 2020 at 9:07am

Silence from Billy...typical.  One would think that NC's legislative commissioner by proxy would provide the public a little insight to the direction he'd like to see the ASMFC move on issues important to NC's recreational sector...but I truly expect little to nothing from a proxy for Bob Steinburg.  

Here's one with a clear and present opinion and FACT!

Why the CCA is suing NC






Edited by Rick - 17 November 2020 at 3:53pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote marker39 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 November 2020 at 7:33pm
I watched the video, but I'm still unable to find the entire one hundred and some page complaint on the ccanc.org website as indicated by the executive director.  Do you have a link?

I was one of the original CCA members in NC and server as a chapter president for the Cape Fear area during its startup.  I'm interested in joining again, but would like more information, especially concerning this effort.

Thanks,

Bobby

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 November 2020 at 8:08pm
Bobby, see the two links in my post above “Part 1” and “Part 2”. The file is large. It was best to divide it into two parts.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Get Bowed Up Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 November 2020 at 12:33pm
Rick, no silence here buddy buddy, you and I both know how it works, so, I'm not going to play along with the theater, typical. Since my post I spoke w the owner of the site and ED of the NGO who filed the lawsuit.



Marker39, before I consider replying to that suggestive question, please message and or call me so I know who I'm replying too. Thanks
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 November 2020 at 8:02pm
Originally posted by Get Bowed Up Get Bowed Up wrote:

Rick, no silence here buddy buddy, you and I both know how it works, so, I'm not going to play along with the theater, typical. Since my post I spoke w the owner of the site and ED of the NGO who filed the lawsuit.



Marker39, before I consider replying to that suggestive question, please message and or call me so I know who I'm replying too. Thanks


Billy- Bud, you’re the one that flew in with the drama- “better bag limits”. Did you even read the lawsuits? For someone that claims to “be in the know” and “above the fray” you have a history of such action on this site. It’s not like you didn’t know who, or how to contact, Chuck or David before making your post. Try again, bud.

Edited by Rick - 21 November 2020 at 9:02pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Get Bowed Up Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 November 2020 at 6:13am
Rick, both were called prior to posting, 1 on the 14th one on the 15th a few minutes prior to posting.I should have waited til Monday morning given it was a weekend, however I had been asked about it multiple times and didn'tknow the answer. I did read most of it yes.
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