07/03/05 — Outdoors -- Substitute bill for salt water license

View Archive

Outdoors -- Substitute bill for salt water license

By Gene Price
Published in Sports on July 3, 2005 2:01 AM

A House committee of the N.C. General Assembly has approved a substitute to the Senate "salt water fishing license" bill.

It represents a major departure from the measure passed by the Senate in April.

Under the House substitute the present Marine Fisheries Commission would be wiped out and a new, larger commission would be created.

The substitute also would authorize the new Marine Fisheries Commission -- not the Wildlife Resources Commission -- to disperse funds generated by the salt water fishing license imposed on recreational fishermen.

However, the Wildlife Resources Commission would be required to transfer $3 million from its Endowment Fund to a Marine Resources Endowment Fund and provide up to $1 million to implement the new bill. The $1 million would be reimbursed by the Marine Fisheries Commission on July 1, 2010.

Effective date of the new license would be moved ahead to January 1, 2007 rather than beginning January 1, 2006.

Under the House committee proposal, the present nine member Marine Fisheries Commission would be replaced by a 13-member panel. Four each would be named by the governor, the president pro tem of the Senate and the speaker of the House. The director of the Marine Fisheries Commission would serve as a non-voting ex-officio member.

Each appointing authority would be required to name to the board a person involved in commercial fishing, a recreational fisherman, a fisheries scientist and a member "with general knowledge related to marine resources."

The Coastal Conservation Association which led the effort to establish a salt water fishing license has been on top of the issue in the General Assembly from the beginning. It is hopeful that a final measure assuring the best interests of the marine resources will be worked out in a conference between the House and Senate.

Andrea Heekin named

Goldsboro's Andrea Heekin has been named to the Nation Board of the Coastal Conservation Association. The first female ever named to the board, she has been serving on the budget committee of the North Carolina CCA.

Ms. Heekin, who owns and operates Billie's restaurant with her sister, attorney Sarah Heekin in Goldsboro, was one of the charter members of the local CCA. She also has been active in promoting a number of other organizations dedicated to wildlife and environmental enhancement.

State record

Robert Womack, a 12-year-old angler from Benson, has landed a state record 15-ounce green sunfish. He caught the 10-incher while fishing in an acre and a half farm pond in Johnston County.

The fish hit a night crawler.

When Robert's father, John, saw the fish, he suspected it might be a record. They weighed it on certified scales at a Food Lion in Benson and had it verified by fishery biologist Bill Collart.

Free fishing day

Want to go fishing but you don't have a license? The license requirement has been waived by the Wildlife Resources Commission for the 4th of July. The waiver was made to encourage folks of all ages to try fishing as a wholesome pastime.

But while no license is required, other regulations must be observed -- including size and creel limits.

Hearing on permits

A public hearing will be held in Burgaw Wednesday on a proposal to allow hunting by permit only for deer, bear and turkey on a portion of the Bear Garden tract in Holly Shelter Game Land. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Pender County Courthouse. At present, the tract falls under the same regulations in place throughout Holly Shelter Game Land in which hunting is allowed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays without permits.

Affected by the proposal are 7,892 acres within the 64,743-acre Holly Shelter Game Land.

On July 13, the Wildlife Commission will consider comments made at the hearing. Should the proposal be approved, it would become effective in the fall of 2006.

Trout declining

Populations of gray trout have declined to the point where the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has downgraded the species from "viable" to "overfished." A Division of Marine Fisheries news release says federal and state fisheries managers "are perplexed because the reduction in the population continues even though coast-wide commercial fishing catches have dropped for the last several years."

Perhaps the continued decline in commercial catches should have been regarded as a symptom of overfishing.

Meanwhile, summer flounder were downgraded from "viable" to the "concern" category.

Federal and state fisheries managers are assessing both species to determine what steps might be taken to improve the populations. Tighter harvest restrictions are likely.

Fishing (?) report

We all have heard the comment on how we should have been here last week if we wanted to catch fish. As far as I am concerned, that needs to be edited: "You should have been here two weeks ago!"

That would be the case if you're talking about the Morehead City-Beaufort area. A couple of weeks back, I was bringing in blues and some Spanish hand over fist trolling inside and outside Beaufort Inlet.

But the last few times I trolled in that area, I was lucky to get a strike from even a lizard fish -- sometimes referred to as "preacher" fish.

Judging from the traffic on channel 68, others were having a similar experience.

I switched to bottom fishing a couple of times and did almost as poorly.

Checking the Division of Marine Fisheries report for that area, I noticed that for the piers and surf fishing, there were "no reports."

And I think I know why!

But I have seen reports of success by those going out on headboats for bottom fish and on charter boats for tuna and dolphin.

It's collared dove

My friend John Lewis informed me recently that I had been taken to task by our mutual buddy Langhorne Bell about reporting some "ring-neck" doves being sighted. Langhorne, a knowledgeable and long-time bird watcher, said the correct identification is "collared" dove.

I protested -- briefly. Then I checked my book and, sure enough, Langhorne was right, as usual.