Commentary: Shrimp debate causing mistaken identity

By on February 4, 2017

By James D. Charlet
The North Carolina Coastal Federation has been erroneously reported as being a part of a debate in which it is not involved.

We live in a world of acronyms, initials, hashtags, coded shortcuts and catch phrases. Many of these, unfortunately, cannot only cause confusion but can also lead to misinformation.

My case in point: currently, there is a great debate about how to manage the shrimp fishery in North Carolina’s Pamlico Sound.

As with most all debates, there are powerful arguments on both sides. Usually, there are also a number of convincing arguments and an amazing collection of statistics that prove both sides are correct!

There is no debate that the Pamlico Sound is an extremely important resource for, and a vital part of, North Carolina.

Most North Carolinians know that it is the largest sound in North Carolina and the second-largest in the United States, just behind neighboring Chesapeake Bay.

Every major eastern North Carolina river, except for the Cape Fear River, empties directly into the Albemarle-Pamlico estuary and only then to the Atlantic Ocean through “inlets” that are really outlets.

The entire North Carolina coast is home to roughly 2.5 million acres of estuarine waters, 1.5 million of which are within the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound.

It’s here where hundreds of species of fish and other marine life grow and feed until old enough to venture to the ocean or migrate along the coast.

The bounty of estuarine and sea life in this area make it extremely important for ecological and economic reasons.

Many commercial and recreational fishermen ply the waters of the sounds and coast of North Carolina because of its rich diversity and quantity of fish.

How and how many fish are caught, as well as who gets to catch them, are issues that are highly debated and managed by both state and federal management agencies.

Somewhere along the way, the North Carolina Coastal Federation was mistakenly identified as being associated with this debate, but not so!

The North Carolina Coastal Federation does not “have a dog in this fight.” The confusion, however, is readily understandable, since many organizations in this state have “North Carolina” and “Federation” in their name and title.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation is simply all about clean water. It is a member-supported 501(c)3 that is focused on protecting and restoring the North Carolina coast.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation empowers coastal residents and visitors from all walks of life to protect and restore the water quality and critically important natural habitats of the North Carolina coast.

From its website,, it explains that “Our Vision for North Carolina is to have and maintain a natural, beautiful and productive coast that is a great place to live, work and visit.”

The North Carolina Coastal Federation should not be confused with anything else. Here is why.

The organization was formed in 1982 and has made phenomenal progress since then, marking up numerous positive accomplishments for protecting our coast.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation currently already has three coastal offices – Newport, Wanchese and Wrightsville Beach.

It has a full-time professional staff of over thirty, as well as part-time staff and interns, and has amassed an incredible cadre of enthusiastic volunteers.

And for the N.C. Coastal Federation, the proof is in the pudding.

Every year, this group restores wetlands, grows oysters, employs commercial fishermen and educates hundreds of our local children about the importance of the sounds.

See for yourself. This group is a different product, one that is based in our local community.

So, why do I care about this?

I live on this coast. I have been a permanent resident of Hatteras Island for 25 years. I am a life-long teacher and now a professional speaker and writer about Outer Banks history, geography and culture.

I am compelled to have the public understand the truth.

James D. Charlet is a freelance writer and history interpreter, former site manager of Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station Historic Site and Museum, public affairs officer for the U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Cape Hatteras Flotilla 16-4, and a member of the U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association, National Maritime Historical Society, First Flight Society and The Naval Institute.

The column was submitted and approved by the N.C. Coastal Federation, which has a content-sharing agreement with the Outer Banks Voice.




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