The board of the American Sportfishing Association voted to support the NC Sound Economy initiative at its spring meeting in late March.
The NC Sound Economy is a newly formed and growing coalition of recreational fishermen, business leaders and concerned citizens that work together to urge state legislators to adopt fisheries management policies that both grow the fishery in North Carolina’s sounds and maximize its economic benefits.
Recreational fishing has created travel, tourism and manufacturing jobs in the state and contributed to the large fishing economy along North Carolina’s coast, the ASA said.
However, the state’s management of fisheries resources has led to fish declines and a struggling fishing economy, the group said.
“ASA is proud to work with our members and partner organizations in North Carolina to focus on revamping the state’s fisheries management system in a way that will provide for better fisheries conservation and angler access,” ASA government affairs vice president Scott Gudes said in a statement.
“Many of North Carolina’s coastal fisheries are depleted, harming both the recreational and commercial fishing industries. The NC Sound Economy is focused on improving the health of fisheries resources and, in turn, maximizing their economic benefits to the state.”
According to North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries data, only three of 13 state-managed coastal finfish and shellfish stocks can currently be considered “viable.”
The NC Sound Economy believes the legislature should reform fishery management laws to address this problem, make it the state’s top priority to grow the fishing economy in a sustainable way and streamline regulatory decision-making, using the best and latest scientific research.
“The struggles North Carolina’s fisheries are experiencing are not unique,” Gudes said. “They are not unsolvable, either. ASA looks forward to working as part of the NC Sound Economy Coalition to put in place a well-functioning fisheries management system that improves the health of the state’s fisheries resources and the economy it supports.”