CCA North Carolina Applauds MFC
Menhaden Vote is the Right Move for North Carolina
Morehead City, NC, May 11, 2012 - In a historic 5 – 4 vote to remove industrial net fishing from NC waters, the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) voted Friday to eliminate the practice of purse seining from a “mother ship” effectively limiting the practice by the reduction fishery in harvesting menhaden for fish meal and oil in North Carolina waters. Commissioners Anna Beckwith, Rob Bizzell, Chris Elkins, Joe Shute and Darrell Taylor voted for the measure. Commissioners Mikey Daniels, Bradley Styron, Allyn Powell and Joe Smith voted against the measure. Harvesting menhaden by other means will still be allowed.
Purse seine fishing uses large nets that encircle an entire school of menhaden that is then pulled together (pursed) at the bottom to prevent them from swimming out of the net. The fish are then literally vacuumed into the hold of the “mother” ship by the hundreds of thousands while potentially killing fish such as red drum and striped bass as bycatch. North Carolina no longer has a reduction plant, the last plant closed in Beaufort in 2005. The boats currently operating in NC waters are from Omega Protein Corporation, operating out of Reedville, VA.
CCA has long wanted conservation regulation of the menhaden reduction fleet. When the Beaufort plant closed, CCA asked that industrial menhaden fishing be stopped in state waters. In 2009, the boats operating out of Virginia caught as bycatch a large school of red drum, NC’s state fish, and these fish washed up dead on Core Banks. CCA asked again that menhaden reduction fishing be stopped, but the MFC balked. NC Division of Marine Fisheries Executive Director Dr. Louis Daniel then put in place additional harvest restrictions.
“We are glad to see the NC MFC take action to help North Carolina fish and fishermen,” said CCA NC Fisheries Chairman Bill Mandulak.. “Menhaden are currently at the lowest level of abundance ever recorded. North Carolina fishermen are seeing fewer and fewer menhaden. This measure will certainly help North Carolina’s fish stocks and eliminate the wasteful bycatch problems associated with this practice.”
Menhaden are one of the primary prey species for marine fish species. They are filter feeders that serve a critical role in marine ecosystems; they convert the suns energy into protein that is consumed by fish from trout to tuna.
“The MFC should be recognized for taking positive action to help all North Carolina fish stocks. We applaud their vote for conservation today,” said CCA NC President, Greg Hurt.
CCA NC is the North Carolina chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association.
CCA is a non-profit organization whose objective is to conserve, promote, and enhance the present and future availability of coastal marine resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public.
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