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As a resident of the TRUNA neighborhood I am grateful for all the wonderful work of Councilman Bell for the last two...

Gillnet ban poor government

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Saturday, March 30, 2019

On March 13, I was witness to what may be the worst abuse of power by some members of a North Carolina government entity that I have ever seen.

Five of the nine members of the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission voted to close the Pamlico and Neuse Rivers above the ferry docks at Bayview/Aurora and Minnesott/Cherry Branch to the use of all gillnets.

This action was taken after the commission had already closed the entire Central Southern Management Area (Pamlico Sound, Pungo, Pamlico, Neuse and Cape Fear Rivers) to possession of striped bass.

The striped bass closure, actually a moratorium for two years, is about the most drastic management action that can be taken. This was done to protect two years of naturally spawned native fish.

This “miracle” spawn occurred under the then-in–effect regulations. But in order to protect these native fish, the commission went ahead with the no-possession closure.

At that time the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries also issued rules that minimize incidental catch of striped bass. These rules have been in effect for several years. By having state observers on commercial boats while the nets are being fished, it was determined that the numbers of stripers caught while the netters targeted other species was not significantly detrimental to the striper population.

Well, that common-sense, proven action so enraged the radical ban-all-gillnets gang of five, that the chairman called an emergency meeting to force the director of Marine Fisheries to issue a proclamation banning all gillnets in the upper halves of the Pamlico and Neuse Rivers.

No public comment was allowed, and current data from Marine Fisheries staff was brushed aside. But data provided by a commission member for the years of 1980-2002 was embraced as if sent from heaven. Poor government.

Gregory Judy

Washington, N.C.

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