CFRG Offers Petition to Change Speckled Trout Regs

At the January 21-23 meeting of the Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) in Carolina Beach, the newly formed Coastal Fisheries Reform Group (CFRG) offered several documents during the Public Comments segment on Wednesday evening. While this was the first public presentation by the CFRG, the documents, especially the Petition for Rulemaking regarding speckled trout, generated much conversation from the individuals present, both during and after the meeting.

The CFRG, which is headed by Dick Hamilton, former Executive Director of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Joe Albea, host of the Carolina Outdoor Journal television show on UNC Television, and Dean Phillips, a charter fisherman from Surf City, has been meeting since early fall of 2008 and their participation continues to grow.

The CFRG expressed concern for many facets of Marine Patrol Enforcement, Revenues from the saltwater fishing license, managing marine fisheries through science-based rules and several items of new legislation including a law to prevent harassment of fishermen and a proposed rule change for the taking of speckled trout.

The real attention-getter was when the CFRG presented a Petition for Rulemaking to the MFC requesting restrictions on taking speckled trout. The proposed amendment included restrictions for recreational and commercial fishermen. The three main points of the CFRG petition include:

     An immediate closure by proclamation of the season for taking speckled trout using nets and gigs in all designated nursery area of joint and coastal waters from now until April 1, 2009.

    Closure of the season for taking speckled trout using nets and gigs in all designated nursery area of joint and coastal waters from October 1, 2009 through April 1, 2010 and similarly in subsequent years.

     A reduced recreational creel limit for speckled trout beginning October 1, 2009. The limit would be reduced from 10 fish to 6 fish a day, with a slot limit that included a minimum size of 14 inches and a maximum size of 22 inches. One fish per day may be retained that exceeds the 22 inch maximum size.

The justification for this proposal is to protect the spawning speckled trout in N.C. waters and allow them winter sanctuary in deeper inland creeks.

Representatives from several other conservation groups spoke in support of the CFRG proposals as did several guides. MFC Chairman, Mac Currin, said the Council and their legal representatives would review the proposal and get back with the CFRG.

Since presenting the proposal to MFC, CFRG has implemented a blogsite and e-mail address. The blogsite is http://cfrgnc.blogspot.com/ and the e-mail is CFRGNC@yahoo.com.

I would suggest visiting the blogsite and checking this group out. They also welcome your suggestions and concerns.


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