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Pamlico County man petitions for inshore shrimp trawling ban - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

Pamlico County man petitions for inshore shrimp trawling ban

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A Pamlico County man is petitioning to get shrimp trawling banned in some of our local waters.

Shrimping is a multimillion dollar industry, and the second most popular seafood in our state.

Tim Hergenrader of Reelsboro is the recreational fisherman behind the petition to get shrimp trawling banned in internal coastal waterways such as the Pamlico Sound, Bogue Sound, and parts of the Neuse River.

"My petition is to try to get the trawling industry to change their ways," said Hergenrader.

Hergenrader submitted the petition last month to the Division of Marine Fisheries. He's worried about the declining population of the once common weakfish, Atlantic croaker, and spot.

"I think that trawling bycatch is contributing to the demise of those fish," said Hergenrader.

"Bycatch" is anything a fisherman catches that he didn't mean to catch. It's been a shrimp industry problem for decades.

But Nancy Fish with the Division of Marine Fisheries says the agency cannot definitively say how much bycatch the shrimp trawling industry takes in.

"We [cannot] attribute coast-wide declines in weakfish, spot and croaker to shrimp trawling in North Carolina," said Fish.

Those in the shrimp industry say the petition would put them out of business.

"If it were to happen, it would be a bad piece of legislation," said Bradley Styron, the owner of Quality Seafood in Cedar Island, which packages and distributes shrimp.

He says most of his shrimp comes from areas like Pamlico Sound.

"All of eastern North Carolina depends on shrimping. All the fish, the largest fish houses especially," said Styron.

But Hergenrader insists he's not trying to hurt anyone's livelihood.

"I like to eat shrimp just as well as the next man, but bycatch has to be controlled," said Hergenrader.

The Marine Fisheries Commission is scheduled to vote on the petition at their meeting in Raleigh from August 28-30.

In his petition, Hergenrader cites a Division of Marine Fisheries from 2009 in saying that 500 million small fish are killed by shrimp trawlers every year, but Fish says this statement is not correct.

"Mr. Hergenrader took the findings of the very limited, one-time study, and expanded or extrapolated out the study's findings to characterize shrimp trawl bycatch in all of North Carolina's inshore waters – this is not an appropriate use of the data," said Fish.

Fish says the DMF doesn't have exact figures on how much shrimp bycatch there is in our state because it's too variable.

"There's some places you go and it's more pronounced than others," said Styron. "Some places you go, it's clear shrimp. Other places, it may be a ratio of 20% bycatch."

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