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:


Under The Radar In The New England Fishing Industry

My friend who is working to save the fishing industry in New England sent me the following email:

As a member of the commercial fishing industry, I can say with personal experience and knowledge that the effect that Obama administration policies have had on the nations fishing industry have been overwhelmingly destructive. Not that the fishing industry hasn’t had its struggles over the past 10-15 years, but the most recent developments have been the most drastic. Upon his election, the President nominated Dr. Jane Lubchenco, a publicly outspoken opponent to all kinds of commercial fishing, to head the nation’s top fishing agency, NOAA (the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration). Prior Vice Chairwoman of the Environmental Defense Fund, an NGO which during that time advocated- at a national investor’s conference- financial gain to be obtained through certain types of fishing regulations, she made these types of regulations, which cause massive loss of fishing jobs and boats, the national policy of NOAA. She pushed them through in New England, despite vehement resistance from the majority of the fleet, including an ongoing lawsuit. These policies have caused people to lose their homes, boats, lifetime livelihoods, and in some cases their families. Despite calls from a bipartisan group of various Congressmen and Senators, the President refuses to remove Dr. Lubchenco from her post. While NOAA Administrator, her agency has undergone two IG investigations, during which NOAA officials were found to have lied to the IG and destroyed 80% of the documents of the NOAA department being investigated. Still to this day, no NOAA personnel have been reprimanded or fired. This has led to Senator Brown’s repeated question- what does it take to get fired at NOAA? Under this administration, apparently nothing.

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When The Government Oversteps Its Bounds The Grass Roots Wake Up

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On Thursday CNS News reported that commercial fisherman are fighting back against excessive regulations put in place by the Obama administration.

The article reports:

A group calling itself the Seafood Coalition is calling on Congress to do what it can to scuttle President Obama’s National Ocean Policy National Ocean Policy, which the president unilaterally imposed by executive order in 2010.

In a letter to the House Natural Resources Committee, the Seafood Coalition said that the president’s plan adds a needless level of top-down bureaucracy and regulation on fisheries.

Please notice that the new regulations were put in place by executive order rather than the normal legislative process.

The article further reports:

Stolpe (Nils Stolpe, spokesman for the Seafood Coalition) said the regional boards will throw up in the air the bottom-up scheme that has been in effect since 1976, when Congress passed the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to address overfishing.

“The management program we have in place now is working – it’s working really well – and we don’t need another layer of bureaucracy stuck on top of that,” he said.

Stolpe said the commercial seafood industry currently works hand-in-hand with federal and state fisheries managers and scientists to create “an effective management process” which already promotes “sustainable” fishing.

“Eighty percent of our domestic fisheries – fisheries exclusively in the U.S. economic zone – are no longer being overfished,” Stolpe said.

The White House, meanwhile, specifically denies the accusation made by the fishing industry.

What has happened as the result of this executive order? Small commercial fishermen have been forced out of business and the cost of seafood for the consumer has risen. If there is a valid need for a new law, the law needs to be introduced in Congress and voted on by Congress. The executive order regarding fishing has created more problems than it solved.

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Fighting City Hall

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As many of you who read this blog on a regular basis know, I have a friend who is active within the New England fishing industry who keeps me informed of what is happening with the attempted government takeover of the industry. She recently submitted an article to the New Bedford Standard Times updating some recent events in the battle to save the small fishermen of New England.

Meghan relates some of her experiences with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and its battle against the small fishermen of New England:

In fact, EDF has on-site paid personnel in Washington, on a continual basis, to lobby Congress for its own agenda. I have seen its employees repeatedly at congressional fishery hearings in D.C. At one such hearing, I witnessed EDF pay to have a few, select “poster children” fishermen, whose airfare, lodging and total expenses were paid by EDF, come and sit in a congressional hearing room before a House subcommittee, and wear red T-shirts that said “Fishermen for Catch Shares.”

The rest of us from the fishing industry who attended, in order to oppose catch shares, did not have any of those luxuries. We, as the majority of the industry, had to take unpaid time off of our own jobs, away from our own businesses and boats, and money out of our own pockets and those of other cash-strapped industry members who wanted their voices heard, to pay for hotels, food, travel, etc., in order to defend our own interests against groups such as EDF who would lead Congress to believe that we “wanted” catch shares in our region. My experience has been that EDF works against the majority fishermen, not with them.

Please follow the link to the article to see further details. The bottom line here is that the New England small commercial fishermen are fighting a well-funded, cash-rich group of bureaucrats who either do not understand the needs of the small commercial fishing fleet owners or are trying to destroy the small businessmen within the fishing industry. This is a place where New Englanders need to let the government know that they are meddling where they have no reliable scientific information and no rational reason for meddling. I appreciate the efforts of the Congressmen in Massachusetts who are fighting for the rights of the small commercial fisherman–regardless of which party they represent.


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Hope For New England Fishermen

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During the Obama administration, there has been an attack on the commercial fishing industry in New England. I have posted on this before (rightwinggranny August 27, 2010). Now the fishermen have two allies in the Senate who are preparing to help their cause.

Senators Scott Brown and Kelly Ayotte introduced S. 1678 on Tuesday. The bill would amend the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to permit eligible fishermen to approve certain limited access privilege programs.

An article at The Republic states it more clearly:

Under the bill, New England’s program would be terminated if more than 15 percent of participating fishermen lost their jobs in the first year. The new system finished its first year in May, but it’s not yet known if the 15 percent threshold was reached.

The bill also requires a two-thirds vote by fishermen before any future fishery management systems are approved.

This does not restore the businesses of the fishermen who have been put out of business by over regulation, but it is a first step in limiting the power of the federal government to choose winners and losers in the fishing industry.

These are quotes from Senator Ayotte’s website about the need for the legislation:

Catch share programs are driving New Hampshire’s fishermen out of business.  Five months after federal catch shares were implemented in New England, 55 out of the initial 500 boats in the fishery controlled 61 percent of the revenue, and 253 of the boats were sitting at the dock, unable to fish without quota,” said Senator Ayotte, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fishers, and Coast Guard.  “This legislation would help level the playing field for independent small fishermen by scrapping unreasonable federal mandates that are killing jobs while giving local fishing communities more control during the program establishment process.”

Senator Brown said: “It is clear that the hastily implemented system of catch-share management in New England has led to fewer fishing jobs and a consolidated fishing fleet.  As more and more jobs disappear from Massachusetts ports, Congressional action is needed to save the fishing industry from overzealous federal regulation.  This bill sends a clear message to NOAA that the broken relationship between the agency and fishermen needs to be fixed and we need to work together to save fishing jobs and ensure a robust and vibrant industry in Massachusetts.”

Both of these Senators are to be congratulated for their efforts on the part of New England fishermen.

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NOAA And The New England Fishing Industry

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been having a negative impact on the fishing industry for a while. A website entitled Saving Seafood reported yesterday that New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang and Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk have filed notice of their intent to appeal United States District Court Judge Rya Zobel’s recent ruling on Amendment 16.

Amendment 16 sets up a quota system that ignored the Magnuson-Stevens Act’s requirement for a referendum before a quote system can be imposed.

The article further reports:

The appeal is not the only avenue the mayors are pursuing to seek redress and compensation for fishermen hurt by NOAA. They are also supporting bills filed by their representatives in Congress, Massachusetts Senators Kerry and Brown and Congressman Frank, that ask for an investigation of rulemaking by the Commerce Department Inspector General. They are also supporting a Government Accountability Office inquiry now underway that was requested by Senator Brown.

The recent actions of NOAA have resulted in many fishing families losing their family businesses. I understand the need to control commercial fishing, but it has to be done with consideration of the people involved in the occupation. This is one area where I find myself in agreement with Senators Kerry and Brown and Congressman Frank. They are working on something that needs to be done.


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