N.C. Marine Fisheries examining definition of ‘commercial fisherman’

CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WNCT)–The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is once again discussing what it means to be a commercial fisherman.

A special committee met Thursday in Morehead City to finalize guidelines for a definition. The committee approved a set of five preliminary guidelines at its meeting.

On the committee are Chairman Sammy Corbett, Chuck Laughridge and Mike Wicker.

Laughridge proposed three main guidelines for the definition of a commercial fisherman.

They are: 50 percent earned income from fishing, 3 dozen trip tickets per year and proof of income of a commercial business–$10,000 per year per crew.

The issue’s been hotly debated for many years.

“It’s happened actually several times in the past that this has been brought up,” Patricia Smith, public information officer, said. “Where it comes from is that over the years we’ve noticed that probably even less than half of the commercial fishing licenses that are issued each year actually get used.”

Two additional guidelines were also added.

Inactive licenses that don’t meet the main criteria for three years will go into a special pool. The licenses may be reissued to owners one time after they prove a commitment to meeting the three main criteria.

Heritage licenses can be issued one time to a family member without entering the eligibility pool.

Results from Thursday’s meeting will be taken back to the commission at its February meeting. More discussion is expected.

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