Chairwoman Lucy Allen asked Dr. Louis Daniel, Director for the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, about the state of the menhaden population.
Dr. Daniels stated that national studies show that menhaden are not in short supply and therefore the Commission would not be inclined to act on this as it is not a "resource" issue. Representative Bonner Stiller (R-Brunswick, New Hanover) replied that this bill was largely a preventative measure.
Representative Pryor Gibson (D-Anson) responded to the national statistics by questioning the age and quality of the menhaden population. He derived that most of the menhaden are 2-3 year-old fish, not fish that are 7-8 years-old.
Debate followed regarding the scope of authority on this bill. Some committee members felt that the authority should rest with the Marine Fisheries Commission. Others felt that, while that may be the case, menhaden still need the protection.
The bill passed the committee with approval from all but Representative Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), who had previously stated her position that this authority should not rest with the legislature but with the Commission who, in her opinion, is more qualified to deal with these issues.
The bill now goes to the House Committee on Commerce, Small Business and Entrepreneurship.