JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The Division of Marine Fisheries just wrapped up its public scoping period for Spotted Sea Trout management options.

A series of four meetings took place across Eastern North Carolina to help the Division develop a plan to stop the overfishing they say is occurring with the species.  

The Division of Marine Fisheries told 9 On Your Side over 700 people participated in providing feedback on this issue. Local fishermen are hoping their voices were heard and the right decisions will be made. 

“Not everybody got to get their voice heard, because the commission or board members shut them down before they were able to always speak their mind,” said Brad Smith, a charter captain who attended New Bern’s meeting.  

Smith didn’t get to share his thoughts when he was at the New Bern meeting, so he emailed them instead. 

“I’m all for a slot limit on the trout, 15-inch to a 20-inch speckled trout fishery would be amazing. On top of that, if you still allow for one over 20 fish, that way, you do have a true trophy fish that you can go out there and chase,” said Smith.  

The Division of Marine Fisheries held these meetings to help them develop a plan to stop the overfishing that’s occurring with the species.  

We asked all participants at the meetings to provide input on ways they would like to see the management of speckled trout go in the future. And we received comments that ranged from considering modifying the size limit, considering slot limits, also looking at seasonal management and regional management,” said Chief of Fisheries Management for the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, Steve Poland. 

After taking the information they gathered to the Marine Fisheries Commission in May, the NCDMF will then begin developing a fishery management plan over the next 18 months. The NCDMF emphasized they plan to have more public meetings in the future for local fishermen to continue providing feedback as they develop the plan.  

“We’ve got to do what’s best for it and what’s really best for it, not what somebody just wants, or selfish desires here for all of us. It is a resource for all of us and it should be accessible to the majority of the people,” said David Mercer, a recreational angler.