Commercial fishermen, biologists, conservationists and seafood consumers came out in force Tuesday in New Bern to stop proposed regulations that would restrict commercial fishing in North Carolina’s sounds and estuaries.

Several shrimp boats traveled up the Neuse River and anchored off Union Point Park for Tuesday’s meeting at New Bern Riverfront Convention Center, a meeting that drew about a thousand people, most of them opposed to a petition from the nonprofit N.C. Wildlife Federation to restrict commercial fishing in North Carolina.

Committees of the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission voted at the end of the 7½-hour meeting to recommend denying the petition that would have restricted the number of days commercial fishermen could fish in special secondary nursery areas to three a week (four days per week in the ocean); reduce headrope length on shrimp trawlers to 90 feet from 220 feet in internal coastal waters and 110 feet in the ocean; and calls for a mesh size study on fishing nets to limit the harvest of juvenile Atlantic croaker and spot.

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