Recreational catch dwarfs commercial across many fish species

By Easton Edwards | News Opinion

EASTERN NC – In 2020, recreational anglers once again caught more numbers and poundage of targeted fish species in North Carolina. The recently released Annual Fisheries Bulletin put out by the NC Division of Marine Fisheries has the data to support the numbers. 

In the chart that accompanies this article, note how capture concerns what I consider to be the most sought-out species (except for Southern Flounder) of anglers heading to our coast. To be sure, some anglers get their kicks by hunting other species, but the numbers indicate the eight species reflected in the chart are the hardest-fished, and most sought-after annually. 

It is enlightening to see that once again the recreational sector leads in the capture of their ‘poster children’ of species – Speckled Trout, Red Drum, and Grey Trout. These are the species that, God forbid, any commercial fisherman even dare to look at harvesting. 

As you can see by these numbers, the recreational sector not only captures more, but due to their rabid targeting of these species, likely leads in producing the most undersized dead discards from these species seen each year. Does the public in general know, or acknowledge this? Probably not.

Do the leaderships of CCA, the North Carolina Fisheries Reform Group, the NCFW and other recreational groups know this? ABSOLUTELY! They know the data, but you will never see them disclose or enlighten their memberships on how many more fish the recreational anglers are harvesting than the commercials. This is especially true on ‘their fish’ where they rally their ‘war cry’ around. 

The data is factual and show exactly where the fish are being harvested. Contrary to what these groups and their armchair biologists tell their legislators and members, these are the facts. I find it amusing when I see blogs by individuals who have NO STAKE in a fishery, but continue to try and limit fisherman by constantly denting or distorting the facts on fishery issues. 

These facts are rarely, if ever, passed along to legislators who need the numbers to make the correct decisions. All you ever see are some legislators who constantly introduce bills to eliminate fishing or restrict it heavily who have no stake in the industry. I sit and marvel at how any fellow legislators could even consider such bills. 

These legislators that do this should travel to the coast, get an education on fishery management, and learn more about the industry. They should refuse to be puppets of the special interest groups – lining the pockets of legislators with campaign funding, or threatening them with a negative voter response if they do not cower to the wanton desires of special interests. The time for allowing these legislators to be herded by such groups, especially the radicalized ones, must come to an end. 

How can anyone, representing the citizens of North Carolina, introduce any bill, rule, or even idea that would deprive our state’s citizens from enjoying seafood? The thousands of jobs, and hundreds of millions of dollars, do not even scratch the travesty of a law that would prohibit any NC citizen from the right to enjoy their seafood. 

This is the group of resource users who need to rise and make their voices heard!

Call any legislator who opposes your right to NC Seafood. Basically ask them: ‘Have you lost your mind?’ Then ask how much campaign support he/she is receiving from the radical groups that oppose commercial fishing. Explain to them that you and your family have every right to purchase this seafood, as well as to enjoy it in your favorite restaurants. Explain to them that politicians (like food products) have expiration dates – and theirs may be past time if they deny you your rights. The time for playing patty-cakes is over. 

The seafood industry in North Carolina is under assault by affluent individuals who believe they are the ONLY ones who have the right to certain species of fish. They believe they should be the only one allowed in certain areas of our waters to ride about in their $100,000-plus boats and catch fish. They do not believe in the consumers’ rights to the NC Seafood they desire, and that is just WRONG!