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Fishermen Speak Out At Public Forum On Game Fish Bill

Fisherman catches Red Drum of the NC Coast
Flickr user, creative commons
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A controversial House bill that would cut off commercial catching of certain types of fish was the subject of public debate Monday.   Lawmakers would reclassify red drum, speckled trout and striped bass as game fish - only caught by recreational fishermen - if House Bill 983 becomes law.

Recreational and commercial fishermen and others came to Raleigh to debate the issue before legislators.  Chuck Monkridge supports the bill.  He says it is a money issue.

"The bottom line is the state by default must manage these public trust resources to provide the highest total economic return to the state of North Carolina," Monkridge says.

Others say limiting species to sport fishing is a job killer.  Jess Hawkins is a recreational fisherman who opposes the bill.

"To reallocate this public trust resource to a user group the represents only three -to-five percent of the state's population would be like restricting our beaches and sounds to a small minority group of a certain socioeconomic class," Hawkins says.

Restaurateurs also spoke against the bill saying it would make locally caught fish disappear from their menus.

Gurnal Scott joined North Carolina Public Radio in March 2012 after several stops in radio and television. After graduating from the College of Charleston in his South Carolina hometown, he began his career in radio there. He started as a sports reporter at News/Talk Radio WTMA and won five Sportscaster of the Year awards. In 1997, Gurnal moved on to television as general assignment reporter and weekend anchor for WCSC-TV in Charleston. He anchored the market's top-rated weekend newscasts until leaving Charleston for Memphis, TN in 2002. Gurnal worked at WPTY-TV for two years before returning to his roots in radio. He joined the staff of Memphis' NewsRadio 600 WREC in 2004 eventually rising to News Director. In 2006, Raleigh news radio station WPTF came calling and he became the station's chief correspondent. Gurnal’s reporting has been honored by the South Carolina Broadcasters Association, the North Carolina Associated Press, and the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas.
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