Open meetings suit filed against Marine Fisheries Commission

By on April 2, 2018

(N.C.. Marine Fisheries Commission)

An advocacy group for the commercial fishing industry has filed a lawsuit against members of the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission claiming they violated state open meeting laws and showed a lack of transparency and openness.

According to a press release from the N.C. Fisheries Association, State Auditor Beth Wood in February 2016 issued findings in connection with an audit of the Division of Marine Fisheries.

The group quoted the audit’s findings, saying “there have been open meetings laws violated by several members of the commission.”

“Four separate email chains dated January 14, 2015, September 8, 2015, July 20, 2015 and February 10, 2015 that occurred between Marine Fisheries Commission Members,” the auditor’s office stated. “In each instance, the Commission’s legal counsel, Philip Reynolds, stopped the email communication and reminded the commission members about open meeting laws.”

The North Carolina Fisheries Association notified regulators and legislators about the auditor’s findings in 2016.

Although warned, the association alleged the Marine Fisheries Commission continued violating the open meetings laws, culminating with the most recent meeting in Wrightsville Beach, in February 2018.

At that meeting, the commission voted 5-4 to recmmend that the General Assembly change the criteria for commercial fishing licenses, after overwhelming opposition by commercial fishermen, local governments and the public to any changes.

All of the commissioners representing the commercial industry voted against the measure.

A separate resolution approved by the Marine Fisheries Commission at the same meeting on a split vote requested the legislature and Gov. Roy Cooper remove all current members of the panel.

“Open meeting violations by the Marine Fisheries Commission have been an ongoing problem that is well known to many in state government, including regulators and legislators,” said Glenn Skinner, N.C. Fisheries Association executive director.

“While many complain about it, nothing has been done to stop it,” Skinner said. “Anyone that believes in an open and transparent process should applaud the action we’ve taken. It’s sad that we have to resort to such measures.”

No comment on the suit has been issued by any of the commission’s members.

» Click here to read the lawsuit (.pdf)


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Comments

  • Hank Hill

    The CCA should be banned in every part and no members or so called “former members” allowed in any way, shape or form be allowed to participate in any process. The CCA is a vile organization that does not and never has represented sport fishermen. The fact is they represent a very small minority that either in with them or duped by their lies. Here on the OBX where we have the biggest and best charter fleet, with the best captains and crews why only one or two side with the CCA and those keep it to themselves because the rest know what the CCA is all about! They have a playbook just like PETA does. I have been fighting this crowd since ’83

    Monday, Apr 2 @ 10:07 pm
  • Browny Douglas

    Commercial fishermen lost control of their destiny when the Coastal CONsevation Association came to N C ( over 25 yrs ago) with the full intention of outlawing gillnets. That has not quite happened yet, however, the CCA has managed to BUY control of the MFC by $convincing$ every NC Governor, who has 100% appointment power, to do as they say for pay.

    If the current Governor does not dismantle the current MFC it will be up to the integrity of the NC G A to do so. PERIOD. Problem there is that too many members of the G A have the same $weakness$ that Governors have.

    Browny Douglas

    Tuesday, Apr 3 @ 7:45 am
  • Seal

    If you don’t get your way; Cheat !
    The best way to cheat is too stack the deck in your favor !!!!

    Tuesday, Apr 3 @ 8:54 am
  • Truth

    It is a real shame younger generations have to deal with this blanet disregard for the common good and rule of law. Sad part is, they want the MFC gone too and fisheries managed outside the publics involvement, look at HB 867.

    But they will pass regulations that pintch recreational fishermen JUST so they can blame, in some way, commercial fishermen. It’s sick and anyone involved should be damn ashamed of themselves.

    Tuesday, Apr 3 @ 9:50 am
  • Sean

    This is directed to my govonor and general assembly of Nc. I’m so freaking sick of this unfair management of MY/OUR resources. I am being misrepresented by my state government. And I’m over it…. get off you lazy butts and do something now.

    Friday, Apr 6 @ 8:01 am