02/20/09 — Annual event assists preservation

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Annual event assists preservation

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on February 20, 2009 1:46 PM

The great thing about fishing is that there is always a story to share.

Plenty of tales were swapped at the 10th annual Wayne County Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association banquet on Thursday evening at Lane Tree Golf Club.

The night featured both live and silent auctions, several raffles and giveaways and a buffet dinner.

Most importantly, the banquet served as a reunion for several CCA members, their friends and family.

"Ten years ago a group of us got together and decided to get the Wayne County chapter started," said event organizer and founding member Keith Hinnant. "We went to our family, friends and people who we knew cared about the coastal fishing in North Carolina. The first year we had approximately 100 people participate.

"Now we have upwards of 200."

The Coastal Conservation Association is a non-profit organization comprised of 17 coastal state chapters that include states along the Pacific and Atlantic seaboards as well as the Gulf of Mexico.

In North Carolina there are 10 local chapters that work to preserve and protect the coastal fisheries.

"Our main goal is to ensure that the fishery is still around and productive for our children and our grandchildren," said state CCA executive director Stephen Ammons. "We have ten banquets in the spring and all of that money stays in North Carolina."

The Wayne County chapter has a rich tradition of being one of the state's most productive.

"There isn't a set dollar amount that we set as a goal," said Ammons. "The people of Wayne County have always been very good about reaching deep into their pockets and giving as much as they can."

Since its inception, the North Carolina CCA has championed several successful causes and contributed to multiple preservation efforts. In 2008, the CCA donated money to the Bayview Reef and Willis Reef projects in New Bern, paid for 20 new pair of binoculars used by the N.C. Marine Patrol and openly opposed the expansion of bombing ranges near the Pamlico Sound.

"There are always projects that we would like to see happen," said Hinnant. "With 90 percent of the commercial fishery being sold out of state, we feel like we have to be the voice for recreational fishermen in this state."

As an advocacy group, the CCA works closely with several government agencies to promote its agenda.

"We do a lot of work with the legislature and we beat the halls to be heard," said Ammons. "Everything we accomplish is due to the hard work and generosity of the people within the local chapters."

For more information about the CCA or to become a member, visit www.ccanc.org.