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North Carolina is blessed to have one of the largest areas of inshore water anywhere in the United States. This network of sounds, wetlands, waterways and rivers is home to the largest nursery area for hundreds of marine species anywhere on the Atlantic coast. Each year, mature fish come into these waters to spawn. Their offspring enjoy the calm shallow waters of these areas that are largely protected from the fury of Mother Nature and the dangers of the open ocean.
Unfortunately, there are threats in these waters that are many times more dangerous than anything Mother Nature could dream up. The estuarine waters of North Carolina are home to some of the most destructive commercial fishing gear allowed anywhere in the United States. Inshore shrimp trawlers drag heavy nets across the bottom of our sounds, choking out oyster beds, sea grass, and destroying anything else in their path; while at the same time killing over 400,000,000 juvenile finfish each year. In other areas, non-selective gill nets that are primarily set to catch Southern Flounder are killing off large numbers of redfish, sea turtles, and birds. Inshore shrimp trawling and gillnets have been used recklessly by commercial fishermen for decades and they have turned our fishery into a shell of what it once was.
The time has come to remove large shrimp trawlers and gillnets from our inshore waters. Our fisheries cannot continue to be abused by user groups that do nothing but harvest from our waters without any consideration for the health of our marine ecosystem.
Large Mesh Inshore Gillnets that target flounder are non-selective killers. The following video shows the various other species that are killed as a result of this practice. By the way, the commercially targeted flounder these nets are set to catch are currently classified as a depleted stock.
NC law doesn’t allow for commercial nets to completely block an inshore creek. This illegal net prevents boat traffic and can effectively wipe out an entire school of fish that are forced out of the creek as the tide falls.
Inshore Gill Nets are not only indiscriminate killers of fish, like our state fish, The Red Drum. These nets also entangle and kill other wildlife, including the birds that are shown in the following video.