Recently, a petition was submitted by special interest groups to the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission (NCMFC) …the governing body of NC’s marine resources…to implement new regulations that will effectively shut down NC’s shrimping industry. On Jan. 17, a public hearing will occur in front of the NCMFC to hear feedback from the citizen’s of our state, and a decision will be made whether to administer these regulations on top of what is already a heavily regulated industry.
What you need to know…
- There is NO concern with regards to the viability or health of the shrimp fishery….it is classified by the NC MFC as NOT being overfished or being fished at unsustainable rates. Translation…shrimp populations in NC are healthy and sustainable at current harvest rates.
- The concern lies with the amount of bycatch (bycatch = non-targeted species) that inherently occurs while targeting shrimp with trawl nets. Under current regulations, bycatch mainly consists of juvenile fish. Trawls are generally a non-discriminate fishing gear when used in its pure form…catching anything in their path that cannot evade the slow moving nets…
- …however, regulations enacted in the early 1990’s require by law that all shrimp trawl nets in NC waters utilize a Turtle Excluder Device (TED) to eliminate the accidental capture of endangered sea turtles. The TED also eliminates larger finfish and/or large marine organisms and mammals.
- Regulations implemented in 2015 require the use of additional bycatch reduction devices (BRD) on shrimp trawl nets that significantly reduce the incidental bycatch of juvenile finfish. In fact, they are so effective, these devices reduced the amount of bycatch by twice the federal requirement.
- The new regulations that are being suggested by the special interest groups will effectively strangle the shrimping industry to a point that the industry will likely collapse. What NC shrimp will be available will be very limited and extremely expensive.
Despite the success of the newly implemented BRDs, research is currently being done to improve and develop even more effective ways to reduce bycatch. The commercial fishing industry is currently the 6th most regulated industry in the United States, tying the airline industry in number of regulations according to a 2014 George Mason University study. If you enjoy eating NC shrimp, please sign the petition against the new regulations. Let’s use common sense and innovation to reduce bycatch, not business-strangling regulation.
Educate yourself a little more…
Overview of the Shrimp Dilemma – NCCatch.org
Fact and Fiction: Trawling for Truth – NCCatch.org
Using Innovation to Solve Problems – NCCatch.org