Comment: Processing of the Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan Amendment 2

Comment: Processing of the Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan Amendment 2

North Carolina Watermen United President Woody Joyner will present a statement in opposition to FMP Amendment 2 for the striped mullet plan (Fishery Management Plan) during the public comment portion at the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Department in New Bern, NC February 21-23. 2024.

Below is Joyner’s public comment statement.

April 2022 Stock assessment of striped mullet in North Carolina waters Provided data to display inventory status and reductions needed, if necessary, to rebuild inventory. This assessment was used as a basis for commercial harvests compared to commercial landings in 2019. Our position is that this data is flawed and that we are not working with the best available science. Even a quick look at data collected from 2015 to 2019 capped off two years with major hurricanes occurring in early October. Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and 2018 saw Hurricane Michael. We also appreciate the Department’s inability to conduct meaningful evaluation in the years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I submitted personal comment to the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission at its May 2023 meeting and expressed opposition to North Carolina Watermen United to the proposed November 7 to December 31, 2023 closure of Amendment 1 to Appendix A. She emphasized the importance of the striped mullet shoulder season to our watermen and quoted the estimated value lost per person in the 2019 data of $1,278.00. This monetary figure fell very short as far as our water workers were concerned, and also reinforced the hypothesis that the ultimate impact would be much greater not only on fishermen but also on our supporting industries.

After attending a meeting in mid-February 2024 with local bait and tackle shop owners and concerned anglers, I realized the real financial loss to Dare County owners and operators.

These locally owned businesses depend on the fall fishing season to sell mullet, fishing tackle, clothing and other supplies. Not only were they not allowed to have frozen striped mullet caught locally in North Carolina, they also had to bear the financial burden of stocking baitfish from Virginia. Many fear that any continued seasonal closure will have a very negative perception on our visiting fishermen. It is easy to extrapolate this to other industries that depend on tourism, such as restaurants, shops, hotels, rental properties, etc.

The last few years have actually shown greater than average crop production, but we believe this species is not suffering from overfishing. However, the department is striving to meet the guidance of a 21.3 to 35.4% reduction in the total commercial crop. To this end, the Division recommends the more conservative reduction of 35.4% to increase the likelihood of successful reconstruction. Knowing that the Committee will recommend a reduction, using data from Option 5 Table 2.13, compared to 2019 commercial landings, the closure of days from Saturday to Sunday in the period from January to September, and from Saturday to Sunday to Monday in the period from October to December would approximate From the scheduled date. Required reduction of section.

North Carolina Watermen United prefers an option that focuses on weekday-only closures with no trip limits. Using the data in this same table, closing Saturdays and Sundays from January to December would result in a 25.7% reduction in commercial harvest. The department can then collect all data at the end of the 2024 calendar year to determine where the inventory status is recorded. Again, we disagree with the poaching view, but this ruling would certainly be consistent with current NC law which states that the FMP must end poaching within a specific time frame.

Woody Joyner
North Carolina Watermen United – President

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