N.C. Seafood Lobby Day hopes to bring change to coastal fishing industry

Crystal Coast

CRYSTAL COAST, N.C. (WNCT) — Fishermen and seafood lobbying groups spent their Wednesday in Raleigh for North Carolina Seafood Lobby Day, talking to legislators about fishing laws. 

On the Crystal Coast, commercial fishing is a huge driver of employment and the economy. 

Local businesses on the coast are dependent on commercial fishing.

Marc Smith, the owner of Captain Jim’s Seafood said, “It actually employs quite a number of people in this area. And through time it’s been one generation after another.”

And lately, they say the industry has faced harsh regulation that makes it hard to do their jobs.

Wrenn Johnson, the owner of Atlantic Beach Seafood Market said, “We like to keep everything as local as possible. The shrimp and everything is the stuff that’s made here. We like to do local because we always have, and it gets tougher and tougher each year as more regulations come into play.”

Glenn Skinner is the executive irector of the North Carolina Fisheries Association. He said going to Raleigh gives local fishermen a chance to create change in the industry.

“We’ve got representatives,” said Skinner, “from all over the state who have no idea what is best for the industry, what we do and what we need. And really the only chance we get to educate them is one-on-one.”

Skinner said the goal for the Lobby Day is to bring attention to what he says is an unfair and unbalanced marine fisheries commission.

“The unbalanced Marine Fisheries Commission,” said Skinner, “is trying to pass rules that are not science-based. They are more agenda-driven from special interest groups. And that’s been our biggest issue in recent years. It used to be that all we had to worry about was fighting the environment, the weather, those type of things. And now it’s become regulation and unfair regulation.”

The Marine Fisheries Commission has recently placed limits on who can have commercial fishing licenses and created more regulations for the industry.

The Fisheries Association estimates that more than 200 fishermen made their way out to Raleigh today to add their voices to the conversation with state legislators. 

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