Letter to the Editor: Fisheries Decision to Affect Your Access to Local Seafood

Press Release
Letter to the Editor: Fisheries Decision to Affect Your Access to Local Seafood
Seafood consumers, I am writing to alert you to an important way you can help support healthy fisheries and meet demand for local seafood in North Carolina.

The NC Marine Fisheries Commission, the citizen panel that approves rules to manage and protect fish stocks,  is expected to reduce southern flounder harvest in North Carolina by up to 60 percent, significantly reducing the amount of flounder available in restaurants and markets within the next week.

As a responsible seafood consumer, you don't have to sacrifice eating fresh NC flounder to ensure healthy fish stocks in the future.  The Marine Fisheries Commission has no reliable scientific information on how much flounder can be harvested by fishermen without harming the flounder stock and a flawed stock assessment.  

Politics and blind decision-making - not scientific data - will determine the harvest reduction. 

And that's not the only bad news.

The commission put the flounder harvest reduction on the fast-track for approval, so there has been no time to gather or review additional data and other information from scientists, fishermen, consumers, and conservationists.  There also will be no legislative review.

The commission voted to bypass the standard procedure for amending fishing rules - called the fishery management plan amendment process - and adopt a method called a supplement to override the current flounder regulations. 

The amendment process is the proven standard for NC fisheries management and allows thorough review of biological and socioeconomic information.  It supports transparency and accountability, and encourages public participation, building a greater public sense of responsibility for healthy fisheries.

The supplement method does none of those things.

You can find the draft supplement, commission proposals and other information on this issue at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/southern-flounder-current-topic.

I hope you will join seafood consumers and fishermen in asking the Marine Fisheries Commission to uphold NC's vision of ensuring healthy, sustainable fisheries through management decisions based on sound data and with respect for the value of public participation.  

Here's how you can help:

1.  Ask the Marine Fisheries Commission to amend southern flounder management through the amendment process, rather than using the supplement method to approve rule changes developed without scientific vigor and without more significant input from stakeholders. The MFC will meet at the Hilton Brownstone in Raleigh Aug.19-21.  The public can address the MFC 6 p.m. Aug. 19 and 9 a.m. Aug. 20.  Public comment is usually limited to 3 minutes per speaker.

2.  If you are unable to attend the August meeting, please email comments to the MFC care of Nancy Fish by Aug. 17. 

Thank you for supporting healthy fisheries in NC!

Lauren Morris

NC Fisheries Association


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