June 24, 2019

North Carolina: Coastal Fisheries Reform Legislation Advances

Contact: John Culclasure, Central Appalachian States Manager

On June 20, House Bill 483 (Let Them Spawn) passed its third reading in the state’s House of Representatives on a 58-47 vote.

Sponsored by North Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Representative Larry Yarborough and Representative Michael Wray and Caucus members Representatives Jason Saine and Brian Turner, HB 483 would require a minimum size limit on certain species of marine fish to ensure that 75% of fish at the minimum size limit established for the species will reach maturity and have the opportunity to spawn at least once. Species covered under the legislation include spot, Atlantic croaker, kingfishes, striped mullet, Southern flounder, and bluefish.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) signed on to a letter of support for HB 483, and communicated its support for the bill to members of the House Representatives ahead of its second reading.

House passage of the legislation marks a significant milestone for fisheries reform efforts in North Carolina, where coastal fish stocks have been declining for years due to (among other reasons) policy that facilitates the mortality of millions of pounds of fish before they reach reproductive age. HB 483 would establish minimum size limits based on the best available biological and life history data for each species to ensure that the fish have the chance to reproduce. 

“Scientific reports indicate that too many of these fish are being harvested as juveniles, and there’s not enough reproduction going on. When the WRC has a population that is overfished, they set the size limit where the fish are old enough to reproduce. That’s what Let Them Spawn does. It gives the Department a goal of setting size limits that would allow 75% of fish a chance to spawn at least once. It’s a simple idea. It’s not going to solve everything, but it’s a start,” said Rep. Yarborough.

HB 483 now moves to the Senate where it awaits committee assignment.    

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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