NC watermen send message to new fisheries head

About 50 exasperated, even angry, commercial fishermen gathered Monday to meet the new director of the North Carolina agency that governs how these watermen make a living.

They came to the Dare County offices from towns east and west of the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds, ranging from Hatteras Village to Elizabeth City. They came to voice frustrations and ask questions about what they believe are unfair and arbitrary regulations that shrink their livelihood.

Southern flounder harvest restrictions and sea turtle conservation efforts were sore points.

Sea turtles are best with “taters and onions,” said Sharon Peele Kennedy, a member of the Board of Directors for NC Catch, a group that advocates for local fishing and seafood.

This fight is old for fishermen on the Outer Banks, but their opponent has a new face: Braxton Davis, who in April became director of the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries and the Division of Coastal Management after the last director resigned.

In his new job, the watermen demanded he at least listen, tell the truth and be willing to make what they call common-sense changes in the rules that prevent them from setting their nets.

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About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 13 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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