The Battle For Local Seafood In North Carolina

There is a song from the musical “Oklahoma” entitled, “The Farmer and the Cowman Should Be Friends.” The song refers to the struggle between those who wanted to use the newly opened lands in the western United States for cattle and those who wanted to use the land for crops. There were some struggles before that issue was resolved. North Carolina faces a similar issue–a struggle between the commercial fishermen and the sports fishermen. At issue is the availability of fresh local seafood and the ability of small family commercial fishermen to earn a living.

Today I went to Raleigh to the legislative buildings (along with about three hundred other people) to talk to our state representatives about House Bill 867, which would have a serious negative impact on the commercial fishing industry in North Carolina. What is being proposed here actually happened in Massachusetts while I was living there. Over- regulation crippled commercial fishing businesses that had been owned by families for generations. The towns of New Bedford and Gloucester were particularly hard hit. I don’t want to see that happen in North Carolina. The Craven County Board of Commissioners has taken a stand on this issue. Hopefully the legislature will listen to their resolution.

This is the resolution:

Resolution To Oppose North Carolina House Bill 867

Coastal Fisheries Conservation / Economic Development

WHEREAS, the State of North Carolina and particularly Eastern Carolina counties, have a long history and lineage of commercial fishing from the Algonquian Indians trading fish to the modern day commercial fishing industry; and

WHEREAS, North Carolina commercial fishermen have made extraordinary gains with science in protecting the environment which they rely on for their wellbeing and way of life, and want to protect the waters and fisheries for the next generation along with generations to come; and

WHEREAS, commercial fishing in North Carolina is in a state of change. There are a number of economic pressures bearing down on industry participants such as competition from imported seafood, closing working waterfronts, and ever increasing government regulations ; and

WHEREAS, imported seafood is normally of lower quality, with little regulation and inspection of the product. Imported seafood has been known to have been raised in waters containing human or animal feces, and also injected with carboxymethyl cellulose, gelatin, and glucose; and

WHEREAS, due to recent appointments to the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission, the Commission has refused to listen and adhere to the advice of their own advisory committees including Finfish, Habitat and Water Quality, Shellfish / Crustacean, Northern Region, and Southern Region advisory committees; and

WHEREAS, the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission has gone against the advice of their advisory committees, and are currently trying to establish severe restrictions on the commercial fishing industry without scientific data or an economic impact study on which to base their restrictions. These restrictions go against the current Management Plan which requires future regulations be based on science and the data gathered; and

WHEREAS, House Bill 867 seeks to rewrite the North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act of 1997, which was passed after months of public scrutiny. House Bill 867 would reform the North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act of 1997 without such vetting from the public; and

WHEREAS, House Bill 867 would eliminate the advisory committees which have a set amount of commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen, and scientists to advise the Commission and replace them with one, 20 member advisory committee appointed by the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission without any designation as to member’s qualification or status in the industry; and

WHEREAS, House Bill 867 also offers a commercial fishing license buyback plan which also gives insight to the implied destruction of a way of life for so many North Carolina residents that would cause a harmful impact to the state’s economy.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Craven County Board of Commissioners hereby opposes North Carolina House Bill 867 in its entirety and respectfully requests that North Carolina Legislators reject this legislation and support the State of North Carolina’s working watermen in order to sustain a way of life for many future generations and preserve a vital economic engine for North Carolina.

Adopted this the 15th day of May, 2017.

Some of the warriors from yesterday:

 

Craven County Board of Commissioners

Last night I attended the meeting of the Craven County Board of Commissioners. One item on the meeting agenda was a discussion of a proposed draft resolution on refugees from terrorist nations. The substitute amendment, which was voted on, basically stated that because proper vetting of refugees from areas controlled by terrorist organizations is impossible, the Craven County Board of Commissioners opposes the relocation of these refugees to Craven County. The resolution has no enforcement mechanism, but does make a statement to those concerned with refugee resettlement that these refugees are not welcome in Craven County.

One of the main concerns of the people speaking for the resolution at the meeting was the safety of the people who currently reside in Craven County. Craven County is close to two major military installations, and our military has warned some residents of the county that they are terrorism targets. It is also noteworthy that one of the 911 hijackers took his flight training in Craven County. Evidently, we are already on the terrorists’ map.

The meeting was very well run, and personal attacks were discouraged. In spite of that, at various times during the evening those who supported the resolution were described as bigots, racists, unchristian, and uncaring. There seemed to be very little concern on the part of those opposing the resolution for the safety of those currently living in Craven County. At one point a person opposing the resolution stated that they were more afraid of American’s political right wing than they were of terrorism.

The resolution passed on a 6 to 1 vote. Although I respect the Commissioner who voted against the resolution, I feel that voting against the resolution was not in line with the oath he took to protect his constituents. There is a reason that countries in the Middle East are refusing to take these refugees. In September of 2015, Luay Al Khatteeb, a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution, posted the following map on Twitter:

SaudiRefugees

We do need to be compassionate in dealing with refugees from countries that have been taken over by terrorists, but we also need to consider our own safety. The ideal scenario would be to provide these refugees a place to live somewhere near their home countries so that after the hostilities in their home countries cease, they can go home and help rebuild their country. This is the effort we need to support.

Why We Need Citizens’ Watchdog Groups

The Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA) describes itself as follows:

…a grassroots, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, advocates minimum government and maximum freedom. We are dedicated to the preservation of free enterprise and the United States Constitution.  Excessive taxation upon citizens is unconstitutional, immoral, and a complete contradiction of success through the free market system.  We are dedicated to serve our community, our state, and our country by oversight, research, public education and advocacy in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government.

They are active in Craven County and the surrounding counties in Eastern North Carolina. The Chairman of their Watchdog Committee is Hal James. I had the privilege of talking with him this morning to find out what the Watchdog Committee is watching.

One of the goals of the Watchdog Committee is to stop the continuing expansion of local government into areas that are private responsibilities. Mr. James pointed out that the County Commissioners are currently talking about a federally qualified health center and an in-patient hospice business. Both of these endeavors should be left to private enterprise. The County recently sold its home hospice business, why are the Commissioners talking about opening an in-patient hospice? Why are the Commissioners looking for a Certificate of Need (CON) for the in-patient hospice when there is a relatively new facility in Newport?

The second important goal of the Watchdog Committee is to encourage conservative candidates to run and hold their feet to the fire once they are elected. The CCTA does not endorse specific candidates, but they do provide information on where the candidates stand on various issues. The CCTA has a vetting process where candidates are asked 26 questions relating to Constitutional principles. The candidates’ answers are then posted on the CCTA website.

The third goal of the Watchdog Committee is transparency in government–particularly in the Craven County’s budget process. Mr. James cited an accounting change in the budget presentation that was totally misleading in terms of the amount of money spent. In 2010, the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number for Food Stamp Direct Benefits payments was no longer on the audit report. In 2009, that number was $13,817,050, a significant amount of money. The explanation of this missing figure:

The USDA provided guidance to local governments and auditors that the CFDA should not appear in the Schedule of Expenditures of Federal and State Awards (SEFA) beginning with fiscal 2010. Instead the amount is shown in the footnotes, making it appear that the budget was cut–when that was not the case.

I realize that these audits are something that most of us do not have time to investigate or look at, but they have a definite impact on our lives and the lives of our children. We need people like Hal James to take the time to go through our County expenditures and explain to us how things work. Please support the CCTA and organizations like it that are helping to inform the taxpayers and helping us slow down the exponential growth of government and government spending.