Open letter to Gov. Cooper from NCWU regarding out of work fishermen
Published 6:49 pm Thursday, March 26, 2020
The North Carolina Watermen United (NCWU) is asking for your attention to the matter of economic hardship for all of our fishermen – the Commercial Sector, the Charter/Headboat Sector and the Recreational Sector.
We are all concerned at this time about the Pandemic impact and spread of the Corona virus, but the restrictions placed on our fishermen is catastrophic. In mid-March, local fish houses throughout the state told their Commercial Fishermen that they would be closed since the wholesale markets, e.g., New York City’s Fulton Fish Market, was not accepting regular shipments – only a few “select” fish – since retail buyers – nationally and internationally – were not ordering seafood because restaurants were closed. It leaves our North Carolina Commercial Sector essentially out-of-work at a time when the catches provide them with a large portion of their yearly income.
Other closures, e.g., the Dare County No Visitors Restrictions that began March 17 does not allow non-residents to enter the County for an unspecified amount of time – weeks or even months – and causes a devasting loss of business from both in-state and out-of-state tourists for the Charter/Headboat fleet. This is the season that provides their income.
It also affects the Recreational Sector – many of whom come here to fill up their freezers with fresh-caught fish for later in the year.
It leaves ALL seafood consumers without a place to buy fresh local US seafood.
This stoppage of fishing affects hotels, rental houses, marinas, tackle shops and all businesses connected with the industry. Restaurants, too, have been closed or are delivering food only on a take-out basis; however, all kind of provisions have been given by the state regarding unemployment benefits for those workers.
Since fishermen are self-employed businessmen, they cannot file for “unemployment,” but they, too, have no work because of the restrictions.
We are asking for some way to alleviate or provide economic relief for our fishermen in this situation; both the Commercial Sector and the Charter/Headboat Sector make significant contributions to our state’s economy.
Perry Wood Beasley
Board of Directors
Capt Sonny Davis
cc: Dare County Board of Commissioners
Secretary Regan, DEQ
Deputy Secretary John Nicholson, DEQ
Secretary Tony Copeland, Commerce
NCGA Senators and Representatives