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Fishermen speaking up against proposed logbooks by NC Marine Fisheries

Published: Jan. 14, 2015 at 6:37 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2015 at 9:51 PM EST
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Schoonmaker wonders why the state needs all of the information and what the data will be used...
Schoonmaker wonders why the state needs all of the information and what the data will be used for. (Source: WECT)
Captains and fisherman in southeastern North Carolina, especially, are upset about the changes...
Captains and fisherman in southeastern North Carolina, especially, are upset about the changes that the state is hoping to make. (Source: WECT)

SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - Fishermen across the area are speaking up against a proposed mandatory logbook by the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission.

In meetings held at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Wilmington Wednesday and Thursday, dozens of local fishermen and members of the commission discussed details of the new logbooks captains may soon be required to fill out. The end result of the meeting was that the group would reconvene again in August to make a decision.

As things stands now, charter captains would be required to fill out the logbook once a week and turn it into the state. The specific questions and form of log -- electronic or paper -- have not been decided. It would also mean a misdemeanor charge for fishermen who do not fill out and return the logbook.

"They're actually telling us to go ahead and put this into law," explained Reel Adventure Charters Captain Matt Wirt.

"They then say they'll show us this stuff later. I don't know about you, but you know that makes me back up. We want to see what if is first and then we'll go from there."

Captains and fishermen in southeastern North Carolina, especially, are upset about the changes that the state is hoping to make. The new logbooks ask for-hire license holders to fill out detailed information on each trip they take, including every fish they touch - catch or release, how many hooks were in the water, how long and what time the trip was, and even how many bait fish they catch in their cast nets.

Captain Robert Schoonmaker of Carolina Explorer Fishing Charters and member of the newly established Cape Fear Captain's Association says the state has been working on the idea for several years now, but local fishermen were notified only four months ago.

"They basically want to know every bit of your business," said Schoonmaker. "How many people are on the boat to how many hooks did you have in the water, were you trolling, were you casting."

"It just seems overwhelming to a captain on a boat who already has enough stuff to do in a day - run his business, take care of his clients, look after everyone's safety - just at the end of the day to get home and then properly fill this logbook out, there's just no way," Schoonmaker continued.

Schoonmaker says he was told the project would cost the state approximately $400,000 for the 560 for-hire license holders in North Carolina. That adds up to about $700 per license holder. Schoonmaker and others are worried when the state runs out of the federal money their license fees will skyrocket.

Captains like Schoonmaker are also wondering why the state needs all of the information and what the data will be used for.

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