Pratt opposes herring moratorium

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 9, 2005

WINTON – The fight over the right to fish herring continues.

Local commercial fisherman Terry Pratt addressed the Hertford County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday about a potential ban on the fishing of herring.

&uot;There’s a mindset at the state level to impose a total moratorium on herring fishing,&uot; Pratt said.

Pratt believes the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) is basing their moratorium proposal on flawed data.

&uot;What the NCDMF doesn’t understand is that they can double the current catch to 600,000 pounds and it will not cause an impact on the herring population,&uot; he said. &uot;The process they put into place to measure herring populations with the Fisheries Reform Act is not working.&uot;

A few years ago, the NCDMF enacted a daily creel limit as well as a limit to the total number of pounds that herring fishermen can catch in a single season. That total now stands at 300,000 pounds statewide, 200,000 pounds for nets on the Chowan River, 67,000 pounds for gill net fishermen at Wanchese and another 33,000 pounds for the NCDMF to use at their discretion.

&uot;The way the NCDMF collects their data on herring populations is inaccurate,&uot; Pratt argued. &uot;Marine fisheries only survey certain areas and they estimate their numbers from gill net surveys.&uot;

Pratt believes the NCDMF should take anecdotal data into consideration when they are performing their herring surveys.

&uot;More herring are caught with hook and line than by nets and this fact is being overlooked by the NCDMF,&uot; Pratt said.

&uot;The NCDMF’s policy of having a management plan for each fish without regards to other fish doesn’t make any sense,&uot; Pratt continued. &uot;This type of plan doesn’t take into account how different species of fish affect the population of other species.&uot;

Pratt also disagrees with the state’s claim that it will take 16 years for the herring to recover.

Pratt stressed the importance of fishing herring in this area, especially after losing the bass fishing industry due to previous hurricanes.

&uot;The loss of the herring industry would hurt the local fishing industry, which includes commercial fishermen and tackle stores as well as individual fishermen&uot; added Pratt.

Pratt asked the commissioners to draft a resolution to oppose the moratorium and agreed to appear before the Commissioners when new information concerning the moratorium becomes available.

The Commissioners asked how this moratorium would affect individual people fishing for herring and Pratt responded by telling the commissioners the moratorium includes everyone.

&uot;You won’t be able to have a plate of herring if this moratorium is passed,&uot; added Pratt.

The Commissioners agreed to look into the situation and follow the developments accordingly.