HB 353 would have re-classified red drum, spotted seatrout and striped bass as gamefish, thus making them off limits to harvest and sale or bartering. In effect, netting of these fish to be sold for profit would have been banned.
However, the bill didn’t survive a June 9 deadline to “cross over” to the Senate for consideration, either because five Democrats made deals with the Republican majority for their budget approval votes or the Republican majority didn’t want to answer questions about a relatively small number of job losses in the commercial fishing industry should HB 353 become law.
In either case, McCormick and bi-partisan sponsors of HB 353 managed to morph the bill into an all-encompassing study of saltwater resources management.
One of HB 353’s sponsors told North Carolina Sportsman by opposing the game-fish status bill during this legislative session, commercial fishing interests “basically threw kindling on a smoldering fire.”
A quick look at the topics the committee will examine bears out that legislator’s words. Each section could be a nightmare for the state’s commercial fishing industry and the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission.