House Bill 353, which seeks game fish status for Red Drum, Speckled Trout, and Striped Bass, was filed in the North Carolina House today (March 15, 2011) on behalf of CCA NC. A game fish designation prohibits the taking of any species by means other than hook and line and also the sale of the species.
The primary sponsors of HB 353 are Representatives Darrell McCormick (R – Iredell, Surry, Yadkin), Rick Glazier (D – Cumberland), Dan Ingle (R – Alamance), and Ruth Samuelson (R – Mecklenburg).
The continued decline in the Spotted Sea Trout stock, the directed commercial harvest of Red Drum, as well as the inability of the Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) to address wasteful commercial fishing practices of Striped Bass, figured highly in the decision to introduce this bill. Combined, all three species make up less than 2% of the total commercial harvest in our state, yet the MFC continues to regulate these fisheries with a complete bias towards the commercial sector, which in turn severely impacts the health and viability of our coastal resources.
Economic impact was also a major consideration. The financial impact felt by the recreational angling community (via licensing, travel, hotel/motel, tackle and bait, etc.) is some one-hundred and fifty (150) times that of the commercial fishery for these species.
HB 353 also aims to compensate commercial fishermen for any losses resulting from this legislation. “The designation of these species as gamefish will have a positive impact on the resources and maximize the economic benefit to the people of North Carolina. We do feel it is important to mitigate the financial impact this bill could have on some in the commercial sector.” said CCA NC President, Jim Hardin.