The Coastal Fisheries Reform Group has presented the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission with a position paper asking for the removal of otter trawls – widely used shrimp-trawling gear.

Representing the CFRG, Joe Albea of Winterville, who produces an outdoor show for North Carolina public television, gave Commission members the paper this past Wednesday, the first day of a 3-day meeting in Raleigh.

"First, (CFRG) is going to the Marine Fisheries Commission," Albea said. "Then we are going to the state legislature."  

Albea said afterwards that it is clear that delays are likely in taking pro-active steps to end the use of destructive gear such as otter trawls.


"We're not opposed to catching shrimp, but there are more efficient ways to do it," he said, noting that skimmer trawls, which work the top 12 feet of the water column, cause almost no disturbance to the bottom and produce less by-catch of other species than otter trawls.


Referring to DMF criticism of a 2009-2010 report indicating a tremendous by-catch of juvenile croaker, spot and weakfish (gray trout) by shrimp trawlers, Albea said, "If the by-catch is even half what the studies said, that's still too much."


CFRG's announcement of its position paper read in part, "Times have changed. Increasing fishing pressure, the absence of meaningful limits to keep harvests within the confines of productivity, sophisticated fishing techniques, many tons of non-targeted by-catch, habitat destruction by commercial fishing gear and wetland developments, pollution and short-sighted management decisions made by policy boards weighted in favor of commercial interests are some of the major factors that have thrown our marine fisheries into turmoil and danger."


Albea said CFRG will push for fishery management plans for all species of coastal saltwater fish.

"What historically has happened in North Carolina is one species of fish gets depleted by overharvest, then (commercial fishermen) turn to another and deplete it," he said.

CFRG also wants stricter rules for recreational anglers, including banning recreational gill nets, strike nets and trawls.

For a complete review of CFRG's saltwater fisheries management goals, visit