NEW BERN — Tim Hergenrader's petition that could push shrimp trawls out of coastal waters has no support from either the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries or the Marine Fisheries Commission's advisory committees.
Fishermen showed their opposition on Tuesday as well, with nearly two dozen fish captains anchoring their commercial vessels in the Neuse River in protest and more than 600 people attending a public hearing on the petition at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center.
After that hearing, the MFC advisory committees for Habitat and Water Quality, Finfish, Sea Turtles and Shellfish/Crustaceans all passed motions recommending the MFC deny Mr. Hergenrader's petition. Each committee voted separately to recommend rejecting the petition, with one dissenting vote from the shellfish committee and one abstention from the sea turtle committee.
The petition will now go to the MFC, along with the advisory committee recommendations to deny it, at the commission's Aug. 28-30 meeting in Raleigh.
Dr. Louis Daniel, director of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries – the state agency that enforces regulations created by the MFC — said not only did the petition lack the data to back it up, but taking the action it requests would leave out important scientific studies from the rulemaking process.
Mr. Hergenrader, a New Bern resident who had supported the gamefish bill – a measure proposed in the state General Assembly that didn't advance to reserve three species of fish in North Carolina's waters solely for recreational anglers — filed a petition June 20. This petition proposed reclassifying most internal coastal waters as secondary nursery areas because juveniles of three finfish species – weakfish, croaker and spot – were found there being caught as bycatch in trawls.
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