Yesterday the Spiny Dogfish & Coastal Sharks Management Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) approved new management measures that guarantee North Carolina fishermen a portion of the annual spiny dogfish catch and ensure that quota overages in other states will not reduce the catch allocated for North Carolina in subsequent years. These measures help restore equity to the harvest of spiny dogfish, which ASMFC had in recent years allowed to be harvested almost exclusively by states north of North Carolina. Yesterday's decision was strongly supported by North Carolina Senators Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr and Congressman Walter B. Jones, who came together in a September 22, 2008, letter to request that ASMFC adopt these pro-North Carolina measures.
Prior to yesterday's decision, ASMFC managed the spiny dogfish fishery by setting up a coastwide quota with 58% reserved for northern states (i.e. those north of New York), and 42% reserved for southern states (i.e. those between New York and North Carolina). Problems surfaced when northern states caught far more than their allowable share, in some cases up to 90% of the coastwide quota, and ASMFC allowed those overages to be taken from the southern states' quota in subsequent years. The result is that North Carolina, in many recent years, has been allowed virtually no access to the fishery. The new management measures will correct this inequity by guaranteeing North Carolina 16% of the coastwide quota, and by mandating that any overage of one region or state not be subtracted from the quota of another region or state in a subsequent fishing year.
"Given a fair playing field, the North Carolina fisherman can compete and win against anyone," said Senator Dole. "I am pleased North Carolina was able to achieve equity in this decision and hold northern states like Massachusetts accountable in their fishery practices."
"I am very pleased with the decision by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Spiny Dogfish & Coastal Shark Board to improve oversight and restore equity to the rules that regulate the catching of dogfish," said Senator Burr. "This ruling will have a positive impact on North Carolina's fishermen and coastal communities, and I commend the ASMFC for their work on our behalf."
"North Carolina's commercial fishermen face so many issues, and I'm glad we were able to take one of those off the table yesterday," said Congressman Jones. "I'm proud to have worked with Senators Dole and Burr, North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Executive Director Dr. Louis Daniel and North Carolina Fisheries Association President Sean McKeon in fighting to ensure that North Carolina fishermen have equitable access to this public resource."
To view a copy of the letter to ASMFC sent by Senators Dole and Burr and Congressman Jones, click here [http://jones.house.gov/files/LettertoAtlanticStateMarineFisheriesCommission-9-22-2008.pdf].