Open letter to members of North Carolina Watermen United

Published 8:54 am Saturday, November 3, 2018

Open letter to members of North Carolina Watermen United:

Dear Member,

NCWU is asking that you vote No on the NC Right to Hunt and Fish Proposed Constitutional Amendment.

The description of the proposed Amendment was written by the Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission that is supposed to explain any amendments, but the NC General Assembly refused to write the companion legislation so the public would know how it will be interpreted – which leaves the Commission with little guidance.

NCWU’s concerns are that the Amendment is too vague; at the 2nd reading, commercial fishing was taken out, and there was NEVER any mention of the Charter/Headboat industry; only Recreational fishing is supported in the Amendment as it reads.

There is a veiled threat that the Commission could take away the rights for commercial gear; for example, using gill nets could be denied, and even the possibility of taking away the rights of Charter/Headboat fisheries.

The CCA is supporting this Amendment through the Sound Economy Facebook page.

It further opens the door to Sunday hunting for waterfowl which would hurt both the birds and the guides who depend on their abundance. If Sunday hunting continues to be denied, passage of the Amendment would allow  hunters to claim that their Constitutional rights are being denied.

Please vote No on this Amendment and share this email and our concerns with all hunters and fishermen.

Yours truly,

Britt Shackelford                          

Britt Shackelford

Board Member, NCWU

brittonshack@gmail.com

252-473-8078

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Perry Wood Beasley, Billy Maxwell, Andrew Berry, Greg Mayer, Capt Sonny Davis, Jamie Reibel, Ernie Doshier, Duke Spencer, Ernie Foster, Bradley Styron, Tom Harper, Rom Whitaker, Glen Hopkins

NCWU

PO Box 536; Hatteras, NC 27943

www.NCWU.net

Addendum to the Letter

Emailed answers to Representative Jason Saine and others who asked questions about NCWU Opposition –

This issue is more complex than just voting for something intrinsic to the heritage of North Carolina.

This Amendment poses many grievous concerns to the direct users of our state’s resources; the ones who earn money for the state using these resources. Our concerns are real and these concerns have been real for a very long time. We have consistently pointed out these concerns for over a decade. We would like to see the NCGA tackle regulatory reform – which we have also consistently asked for – rather than pass, yet one more time, a Constitutional Law that is vague and open to interpretation.

The fact is that we have no protection for Commercial fishing, for the three-fourths of a billion dollars brought in every year by the Charter/Headboat fleet, nor for the seafood consumer.

Also, hunting and fishing are bigger than state issues. The Robertson/Pittman Fund (For hunting) and the Wallop/Breaux Fund (For fishing) are excise taxes levied against all supplies by the federal government. The 60/40 split of these funds are used to provide so much more than just hunting and fishing opportunity for the residents of North Carolina; these funds are used to provide outdoor opportunity to other indirect users throughout the nation.

The NC Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) and the NC Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) have proven themselves to not have the true interests of those they represent. Extreme regulation curtailing the ability of the direct users of our state’s saltwater resources – to harvest fish and ultimately provide for the consumer – are now the norm by an out-of-control MFC. The WRC pressing for Sunday waterfowl hunting goes against all biological facts, and public sentiment is very real for us.

It is unfortunate that a supposed conservative majority has duped the public into thinking that the Amendment is about hunting and fishing. The for-Hire (Charter/Headboat) Industry and the Commercial Industry have been under fire in this state since the Fisheries Reform Act was passed in 1997. A study of the FRA proceedings shows that the three direct harvesters of fish (Commercial, Charter/Headboat and Recreational) was reduced to two after the 8th reading, and the 9th reading that dropped Charter/Headboat from the list was ratified. Nobody seems to know how it happened, but Commercial and Recreational are the only Sectors covered under the FRA; the MFC interprets it as Charter/Headboat being a part of Recreational, but representation on the MFC for Recreational only gives lip service to the Charter/Headboat Sector; many of the MFC Recreational seats are filled with part-time Charter/Headboat operators. Again, we have asked for proper representation for over ten years.

Thus, the current Constitutional Amendment – the NC Right to Hunt and Fish Constitutional Amendment does not represent our needs. Our area of the state is opposed to Sunday waterfowl hunting while the WRC has pressed passage of the Amendment. This Amendment totally opens Sunday waterfowl hunting up to the courts and removes it from the WRC and the NCGA.

This Amendment is unfortunate; it opens up hunting and fishing to very liberal interpretation and possible court challenges.

All of this being considered led NCWU to opposition to the Right to Hunt and Fish Amendment.

Thank you.

Britt Shackelford.