Boswell, Cook sponsor bills aimed at shrimping rule petition

By on April 2, 2017

(N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries)

Two bills were introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly last week in response to the Marine Fisheries Commission’s recent endorsement of a petition for rule-making that could limit the shrimp industry in coastal waters.

On Wednesday, Sen. Bill Cook (R-Beaufort) filed Senate Bill 432, which would require the completion of a study of shrimp gear. It also calls for gathering viewpoints from all sides.

On Thursday, Rep. Beverly Boswell (R-Dare) introduced House Bill 545, which calls on the Fisheries Commission to follow the recommendations of advisory committees when exercising its rule-making powers. The bill would also require the commission to formally adopt a resolution of rejection when it acts against recommendations from the advisory panels.

The North Carolina Wildlife Federation asked the state to designate waters in the sounds and 3 miles into the ocean as primary nursery areas for various species starting Jan. 1, 2018. The request includes cutting the number of days shrimping is allowed, the amount of time nets can be in the water and the size of equipment that shrimpers can use. It would also set minimum size limits for croaker of 10 inches and spot of 8 inches.

The Fisheries Commission voted 5-3 in February to accept the petition, despite recommendations to deny it by five separate advisory committees and hundreds of watermen and others who submitted written and verbal comments saying it would decimate the shrimp industry.

Boswell’s bill  is written in a way to make it more difficult for the Marine Fisheries Commission to ignore the panels’ recommendations in the future.

Meeting the petition’s requested deadline of the end of the year is unlikely, according to the commission’s legal counsel, because of a number of steps that must take place.

That includes an economic study, which could take at least a year to complete.

There is also the possibility that additional rules proposals would have to be written, followed by review by several state administrative agencies.

And the rules could change other fishery management plans, which requires more time for consideration and adoption.

That entire process may take until at least May 2018 to complete, if the new economic study is commissioned.

But several sources would have been involved in fisheries management from both the industry and regulatory side say there is a possibility that data from an earlier economic impact review could be substituted for the new study, which could speed up the timeline.

Cook’s bill would add another layer of review to the process, which would push back when the final rule would be ready for consideration to an even later date.


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