WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WECT) - Proposed changes to North Carolina commercial fishing regulations could threaten jobs across the state, and the supply of seafood to the region.
Nearly 100 people spoke out at an N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries meeting Wednesday night with most saying they are fearful for the future of their jobs and their families. Almost all were opposed to increased regulations on commercial fishing.
They say the commission's proposed requirements could take away their right to earn a living.
One speaker also noted the general assembly should not be directing marine fishers to issue oyster leases, because the North Carolina Attorney General's office found they were illegal.
"Our problem in the state is that we have lawmakers that do not possess a fishery degree that think they can manage our fishery from behind a desk in Raleigh and they need to let the folks with a degree, that the taxpayers pay to make the decision, manage our fishery," said Scott Griffin.
One proposal would require license holders to make at least $10,000 annually through commercial fishing.
Opponents say that could wipe out part-time commercial fisherman who use fishing to supplement their income.
Many said that, if passed, these regulations would trickle down, costing people their jobs in the fishing industry, and subsequently decreasing the seafood supply. They say this would eventually impact restaurants, grocery stores, and the local economy.
Many pleaded for commissioners to take what they heard tonight into consideration when they vote on the issue Thursday at 8:30 a.m.