Debate intensifies over new shrimping proposal

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) – Proposed shrimping regulations was once again at the center of debate in New Bern Tuesday night.

A meeting, hosted by the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association, aimed at providing people in attendance arguments for, and against, the petition.

The petition would create stricter regulations on those fishing for shrimp. It would limit trawling to 3 days a week, increase the size of fish-eyes to reduce bycatch, and limit where trawling could take place.

It would also put significant restrictions on shrimping in the Pamlico Sound.

Those supporting the petition said it is needed to protect shrimp populations, as many fish species have declined in North Carolina waters.

“A lot of things will have to be looked at. Will the petition stand as written? I doubt it,” said Donald Willis, VP of the North Carolina Coastal Conservation Association.

Willis said North Carolina fishing laws are already behind the times, much looser than other states in the Southeast.

“Even if the petition went as passed, we would still have probably the most liberal shrimping laws on the books,” he said.

But those arguing against the petition said North Carolina shouldn’t focus on what other states are doing.

“You don’t do something because other states do it, you do it because it’s right,” said Jerry Schill, President of the North Carolina Fisheries Association.

Schill argued that before this petition was even brought forward, shrimpers in the state were already taking actions to protect shrimp populations.

“Those who have advocated for this petition know the history, but they fail to acknowledge it,” Schill said. “The work that this industry has done in being proactive.”

The petition, which was approved by the NC Marine Fisheries Commission, now has to go before a rule making committee, get public comments, and then sent back to the commission for another vote.

Before any new regulations are put in place, it would also have to get the approval of the General Assembly.

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