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NCCFRG Lawsuit Alive and Well- contrary to DEQ PR

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    Posted: 12 November 2020 at 4:36pm
The NC Coastal Fisheries Reform Group lawsuit against the shrimp trawl industry is alive and well. Replies to the defendants' motions to dismiss were filed on Tuesday in Federal Court. It is possible that the defendants will make another volley with an attempt to dismiss or the matter may be fully in the Judge's hands for her to rule on standing. NC-CFRG is confident the facts support the suit moving forward.

NCCFRG did dismiss DEQ from the federal lawsuit. With the CCA filing suit in State Court on the Public Trust Doctrine issue, it made little sense to spend resources to fight the State's contention that it is protected under the 11th Amendment from a federal lawsuit. Resources can now be directed 100% towards the trawlers.

Secretary Regan released a highly misleading press statement announcing that the CFRG dropped DEQ from the suit...kind of de ja vu his press release after the Commission voted to close the rivers to gillnets under the CSMA Striped Bass Supplement. It appears Secretary Regan will miss no opportunity to make sure the commercial industry knows that...Hey, DEQ/DMF is standing with the commercial sector in DELAY! 

Today, NCCFRG released the following statement-




The DEQ press release from earlier in the week-





...and as reminder, the Secretary's statement on the river closure-



Edited by Rick - 12 November 2020 at 6:18pm
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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: 16 November 2020 at 10:49am


 

State hit with another lawsuit over mismanaging marine fisheries just as it survives one

lawsuit

CCA-NC files suit in Wake County Superior Court after NCCFRG lets state slide in its own suit over shrimp trawling

The ink was barely dry on an ill-timed, somewhat misleading news release from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality about surviving one lawsuit involving the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries when a second suit hit the streets on Wednesday.

The Coastal Conservation Association-North Carolina (CCA-NC) and 86 residents of North Carolina from 29 different counties — including five former members of the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission — filed suit in Wake County Superior Court. The suit alleges the agency that manages North Carolina’s marine resources has been an “abject failure” in meeting its legal duties to manage coastal fishing stocks in a manner that would fulfill its constitutional “public-trust responsibilities” and protect “public-trust rights” to fish in coastal waters.

On Tuesday, the N.C. Coastal Fisheries Reform Group (NCCFRG) announced it was dropping the portion of a previously filed lawsuit that involves the state and its marine fisheries agency, while the remainder of the lawsuit — aimed at the damage that large shrimp-trawling operations do to North Carolina waters, unhindered by the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries — remains in effect.

NCCFRG has agreement from CCA-NC

NCDEQ sent out a news release trumpeting that NCCFRG had “dropped a lawsuit that claimed without evidence that the state fisheries agency is violating the federal Clean Water Act in its management of shrimp trawling in North Carolina.” 

Never mind that the state doesn’t get to decide that the lawsuit was “without evidence.”

“The Division of Marine Fisheries vigorously protects the resources of this state and its fisheries,” said Michael S. Regan, secretary for NCDEQ. “This dismissal confirms our view from the outset that the claims in this lawsuit were without legal merit, and detract from the meaningful efforts of diverse stakeholders working together to ensure we protect our resources for current and future generations.”

Apparently, some other stakeholders don’t think the state is doing anything in the way of protection, namely CCA-NC, which filed suit, essentially accusing the agency of managing marine resources for the good of the commercial fishing industry.

“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,” CCA-NC said in announcing the suit.”

In addition, CCA-NC’s announcement said, “the State’s regulatory agencies ultimately become co-opted to serve the commercial interests they are charged with regulating.

In its suit, CCA-NC details what it calls “specific evidence” of long-term declines in North Carolina’s marine fish populations, with very few, if any, moves by NCDMF to turn things around. Specifically mentioned were river herring, Southern flounder, striped bass, spot, croaker and weakfish.

CCA-NC’s lawsuit cites specific failures by NCDEQ

CCA-NC also says the lawsuit 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.”

NCCFRG’s lawsuit, filed in August in federal court, alleges violations of the Federal Clean Water Act. It named six of the largest corporate shrimp trawlers in North Carolina, as well as NCDEQ. NCCFRG’s news release on Thursday said NCDEQ had argued that it could not be sued in federal court due to technicalities. NCCFRG dismissed that part of the suit involving NCDEQ but did not dismiss the entire lawsuit.

Our counsel advised us that DEQ had made strong arguments on some technicalities that would protect it from being brought to account in (federal court),” said Joe Albea, one of NCCFRG’s leaders. “But for Secretary Regan to assert that our suit was shown to be without merit is a lie. Our suit will continue.

I want to set one thing straight today: NC DEQ is not, and has never been, the main target of our grievance. While we assert they are absolutely complicit in the significant decline of our pubic trust resource, NCCFRG’s suit is aimed at the large industrial, ocean-going trawlers that are ravaging our inshore waters for private profit.”


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 December 2020 at 9:23am
Lawsuit update-
Last week, CFRG attorneys filed their final
Memorandum In Opposition to Defendant Trawling Companies' Motions to Strike. The defendants will get one last opportunity to respond. The lawsuit will then be fully in the hands of the judge. CFRG attorneys are confident they have a strong case that can be won...more on that below.

If you haven't checked out the NC-CFRG lawsuit, please do.

If you have donated- Thank you.

Every recreational saltwater fishing license holder who is concerned about the future of our coastal resources has an opportunity to help. If 2% donated $100 this battle would be over.

If you haven't donated, please consider doing so.
https://www.nccfrg.org/contribute-now

This lawsuit is truly a grassroots effort, a citizen-suit under the Clean Water Act. 

Every citizen in NC has been disenfranchised from our public trust right to share, enjoy and preserve our coastal resources today and for future generations. The harm has been caused by the shrimp trawl industry, an industry benefiting a handful of wealthy fish dealers.

What is interesting is that out of hundreds of pages of documents that I've read in this case, the majority have come from multiple law firms representing Cooke Seafood...a multinational Canada corporation with an abysmal environmental record. Cooke has multiple environmental lawsuits pending or settled, for millions of dollars, due to CWA violations across multiple states in the US and lawsuits in Canada.

 Resuspension of sediment: Why is it a problem?
  • Sediment contains encapsulated nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus and heavy metals. Plowing the bottom with otter boards and dragging a tickler chain disturbs the bottom releasing those "bound" elements to do harm.
  • Re-suspended sediment can travel for miles carrying nitrogen and phosphorous that contributes to eutrophication of our estuaries that causes algae blooms and fish kills.
  • Re-suspended sediment can travel for miles settling on Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) causing decline and even death of underwater grasses, which similarly affects colonizing oyster spat and fish.
  • Re-suspended sediment leads to dark-outs that prevents adequate light penetration which can lead to SAV decline.


On a typical trawling day in the Pamlico Sound, there can be as many as fifty industrial trawlers "plowing" the bottom- as shown below on Oct 14, 2020.

The view from Space...imagine the effect on what's below.

One satellite shot below tracks a trawl plume for 12-miles!























Edited by Rick - 14 December 2020 at 10:38am
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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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