Representative Darrell McCormick, co-chair of the North Carolina Legislature's Committee on Marine Resources, will be the keynote speaker during a Feb. 25 event to raise money for the fight to change the state's saltwater fisheries management and better reflect the value of recreational fishing. The event will be held in Swansboro.

"Please join the fishing and fishing-business community to support modification of the Division of Marine Fisheries and recognition of the value for recreational fishing in North Carolina," noted one event organizer in an e-mail. "(This) is an opportunity to move North Carolina to (being) a leader (as a) recreational fishing destination."

The fundraiser/campaign kickoff will run from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Hampton Inn at 215 Old Hammock Road in Swamsboro. The telephone number to the hotel is 910.325.9000.

Individual tickets to the Swansboro event are $50, with four sponsorship levels also available: $250 (bronze), $500 (copper), $1,000 (silver) and $2,000 (gold).

McCormick was primary sponsor of House Bill 353, the gamefish status proposal held up in committee during the 2011 legislative session. A similar bill, which includes a $1 million buyout for commercial fishermen who can prove through tax documents and trip tickets that they will lose money by not being able to land some fish, was tabled by a Democrat representative during the 2010 legislative session.

Gamefish status for spotted seatrout, red drum and striped bass - along with other saltwater resources management proposals - currently are being studied by McCormick's committee and staff.

The committee is scheduled to submit a multi-topic report to the General Assembly during April for consideration during the next session, which starts in May.

Two open meetings already have been held, and there are two more scheduled meetings. The first will be held at 1 p.m. on March in Room 643 of the Legislative Office Building, while the final public committee meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. on April 1 in the same meeting space.

Follow the fight to protect North Carolina's fisheries on the dedicated Game Fish Status page.

We encourage our users to email the members of the committee, demanding that gamefish status be given to red drum, speckled trout and stripers. Just click on the names of the committee members below and send them a short note:

• Harry Brown
• Don East
• Thom Goolsby
• Bill Rabon
• Tommy Tucker
• Jean Preston
• Stan White
• Darrell McCormick
• Dan Ingle
• Ruth Samuelson
• Danny McComas
• Bryan Holloway
Pat McElraft
• Tim Spear
• Brent Jackson
• Tom Murry