New NC Fishery System Gets Thumbs Up Vote

January 13, 2009

Dan Whittle, 919-931-9677,
Georgette Shepherd, 919-881-2927,
(Raleigh, NC — January 13, 2009)  The NC Joint Legislative Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture has recommended that the NC General Assembly pass legislation that would authorize the use of catch shares in the state’s striped bass fishery.  The commission’s vote yesterday is the first step in making striped bass the first species in the state to be managed with catch shares.
The innovative, flexible approach for managing fisheries already has been endorsed by Congress for use in federal waters as a safe, effective way to conserve fish while protecting the economic health of fishing communities.  The NC General Assembly must provide authority to the Division of Marine Fisheries to use catch shares in state waters. 
Catch shares give fishermen a guaranteed percentage of the catch and that allows them to fish when prices are favorable and fishing conditions are good.  Fishermen can catch their limit of fish or transfer their shares to other fishermen.  Measures can be put in place to protect small-scale fishermen by capping the number of shares that any one fisherman can hold. 
“Catch shares give fishermen a better way of doing business that protects their livelihoods and their communities,” said Dan Whittle, Southeast oceans director for Environmental Defense Fund.  “Lawmakers should act quickly to approve the use of catch shares so that North Carolina fishermen and managers can design a system together that works well for everyone.”
According to scientific studies on catch shares, fishermen are safer, the fish are higher quality, unintentional bycatch of juvenile fish is lower, and prices are higher.  Virginia has successfully used a version of the catch shares system to mange its commercial striped bass fishery for more than a decade.