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Trawling Restrictions OK’d in 5-3 Vote

WILMINGTON — The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission agreed in a split vote on Thursday to accept a controversial resolution restricting shrimp trawling in state waters.

The vote was 5-3, with Commissioner Joe Shute abstaining. Commissioners Mark Gorges, Chuck Laughridge, Brad Koury, Rick Smith and Mike Wicker voted in favor of accepting the petition for rulemaking from the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. Opposed were Sammy Corbett, the commission’s chairman, Janet Rose and Alison Willis.

All three commissioners voting “no” represent the commercial fishing industry.

The Wildlife Federation presented the petition to limit trawling in November 2016. In it, the federation asked the state to designate sound waters and 3 miles of water into the ocean as primary nursing areas. Some of the rules include restricting trawling to three days a week and keeping tow times to 45 minutes.

The restrictions, supporters of the proposal said, will lessen bycatch and improve fish stocks. Opponents said the new rules would put commercial fishermen out of business.

It appears unlikely that any rules stemming from the petition will be implemented this year.

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.