June 5, 2014
RALEIGH — The state Senate has passed a budget bill that includes a new commercial fishing fund proposed by the N.C. Fisheries Association and backed by the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission.
This isn’t the only change the Senate has proposed for the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ budget. The Senate proposes closing one of the division’s regional offices and cutting several staff positions.
On May 31, the Senate engrossed – put in final form after committee review and approval – Senate Bill 744, the 2014 Appropriations Act. The bill includes creating an N.C. Commercial Fishing Resource Fund, a new fund the NCFA (a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the state seafood industry) proposed in February to the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission at its regular meeting.
Jerry Schill, NCFA president, said Monday that he’s very pleased the Senate included the fund in its budget bill.
The new commercial fishing fund was proposed Feb. 21, when Mr. Schill presented the MFC with the proposal at their regular meeting. The fund’s purpose is to enhance commercial fishing in North Carolina, provide funding for developing sustainable commercial fishing and for programs required by the state’s federal incidental take permits, such as the DMF’s observer program.
The fund would be created by increases to several commercial fishing and fish dealer licenses. The NCFA proposed the added revenue would be put into the fund, which would be overseen by a board consisting of members from multiple fishing organizations.