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Fighting to Protect Rural Coastal Communities as Fisheries Struggle

North Carolina’s coastal fisheries are on the decline and the evidence is clear – commercial and recreational fisherman are hooking fewer fish than in previous years. Specifically, commercial fisherman caught 9% less in 2016 compared to 2015, while anglers witnessed an 18% decrease in 2016 from the previous year. That decline is detrimental to our rural coastal communities whose competitive economy relies on these fishing resources. Action must be taken to grow this public resource and ensure our non-urban coastal communities have the opportunity to compete.

Bridging the urban-rural divide has long been one of the NC Chamber’s key priorities, working diligently to implement the solutions outlined in the NC Chamber Foundation’s “Spreading Economic Opportunity Across North Carolina” to increase economic competitiveness in every North Carolina community. Maximizing the growth opportunities for North Carolina’s non-urban coastal communities is essential to growing competitiveness, which is why we support House Bill 867. This legislation will revise our fisheries management laws to prioritize resource growth and streamline regulatory decision making, transforming North Carolina’s fishing economy. According to a study commissioned by NC Sound Economy, House Bill 867 will generate an additional $829.7 million dollars, $4.2 billion in total sales, 1,493 additional jobs and $1.6 billion in labor income.

It’s clear that House Bill 867 will invigorate North Carolina’s waning fishing resources and benefit the struggling commercial and recreational fishing sectors. As such, the NC Chamber’s Jason Soper, director of governmental affairs, stood before the House Wildlife Resources Committee yesterday to express our support for the legislation. Without action to preserve and grow this valuable resource, North Carolina’s coastal fisheries will continue to see a decline in production, ultimately costing the region jobs and jeopardizing its competitive future. Enacting House Bill 867 is critical to strengthening coastal livelihoods, raising incomes and making coastal communities more resilient, which is why we encourage our legislative leaders to move this bill forward.

Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber