The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries took a major step Thursday toward curtailing the sale of over-limit red drum by commercial netters when Executive Director Louis Daniel issued a proclamation that takes effect Sept. 1 when the 2014-15 netting season opens. The proclamation said the daily amount of “by-catch” red drum that can be sold will drop from 10 to seven fish, and netters must sell their reds at the same time and place as they sell targeted species such as bluefish, flounder, mullet and spotted seatrout.
A recently appointed member of the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission, Sammy Corbett III of Hubert, who is a fish dealer, played a pivotal role in getting the new regulations adopted.
“He’s very knowledgeable,” said Joe Shute, an Atlantic Beach guide and tackle-shop owner who is on the Commission. “He’s been on many advisory committees and takes a very sensible approach.”
In the past, regulations didn’t stop commercial netters from selling their daily allowance of red drum at one fish dealer and then traveling to a different dealer to sell another 10 fish. Regulations permitted netters to sell no more than 10 “by-catch” reds, but those drum — no matter their numbers — couldn’t exceed the total weight of flounder, mullet, spotted seatrout or other species sold.
However, if netters had more reds by weight than other fish, often they’d sell less-weighty fish at one dealer, and then travel to another dealer and sell more than their legal by-catch limit of reds — even though they weren’t entitled to sell those fish.
The new law also requires netters to sell their targeted fish before they can sell any reds.
“Corbett said this wasn’t right,” Shute said, “and he supported the change, which will be good for North Carolina’s red drum. The industry supported the reduction of reds’ bycatch from 10 to seven fish, so they get credit for doing that.”
Shute said it was no secret what some netters were doing.
“A lot of people knew when they sold their catch they could take half of it somewhere else (to sell),” he said. “Sammy’s been a fish dealer for 15 years and said ‘That’s not right.’ ”
Chuck Laughridge, a commissioner from Harkers Island, made the motion that the new approach to the sale of red drum by-catch be adopted. The motion passed with only Mikey Daniels, a Wanchese fish dealer, voting in opposition.