Recent appointments to North Carolina’s Marine Fisheries Commission are drawing criticism from commercial fishermen who accuse the governor of stacking the deck against the industry.
“The two at-large seats were filled by recreational fishermen, meaning that the MFC will now be three from the commercial perspective, five recreational and one scientist,” said Jerry Schill, president of the North Carolina Fisheries Association. “Rather than fill the at-large seats with individuals from a different viewpoint, such as a restaurant owner or seafood consumer, the governor assures the continuing decimation of commercial fishing communities along our coast.”
The nine-member board appointed by the Gov. Pat McCrory (whose opponent, Roy Cooper, is claiming victory in Tuesday's gubnatorial race) has broad powers “to manage, restore, develop, cultivate, protect and regulate the state’s marine and estuary resources by adopting rules and policies,” according to the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries’ website.
The effects of the new slant of the board and power imbalance might be evident already with a etition for Rulemaking to severely restrict shrimping in North Carolina that was filed the same day the appointments were announced.
“Was it a coincidence? Will fishermen get a fair hearing on the issue now before a stacked commission?” asked Schill. “Commercial fishermen have survived a host of natural disasters that gives them a toughness that few Americans have today, but the political storms are almost too much to bear.
“It is a sad day when one needs to search for leadership that truly has an appreciation for the working folks of our state.”