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UPDATE: Commission Votes In Favor Of River Herring Ban

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Officials with the Division of Marine Fisheries voted to eliminate the discretionary season and permit for river herring.

In 2007, a moritorium that banned anyone from fishing went into effect.

Although, a four-day discretionary harvest season once a year, held over Easter weekend, was still allowed.

Friday's decision isn't final, although.

The decision now goes to Raleigh for corporate review and legislative review.

A final vote will come after that.

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Commercial fishermen tell WITN that they're concerned a historic fishery could be coming to an end.

There's a proposed ban over the fishing of river herring, because the fish stock is depleted.

Wednesday night at the Crystal Coast Convention Center in Morehead City, some fishermen were fishing for an explanation on the proposed ban.

Kathy Rawls with the Division of Marine Fisheries said, "When we adopted our fishery management plan in 2007, the stock assessment that went along with that plan, had a stock assessment of possibly 24 years for this stock."

Rawls said the river herring stock is still in a depleted state.

In 2007, a moritorium that banned anyone from fishing went into effect. Although, a four-day discretionary harvest season once a year, held over Easter weekend, was still allowed.

That may change when the commission votes on Thursday.

Rawls said, "The options on the table are to do away with the discretionary harvest season and close it completely. Or to continue the discretionary harvest season."

Rawls said the season was supposed to be for research and to provide product to local festivals and restaurants. Instead, she said lot of the herring is used for personal consumption.

Commercial fisherman Chris McCaffity said he's worried.

McCaffity said, "I know from experience that once a fishery has been closed it is rarely, if ever, reopened."

Another item at Thursday's vote is whether or not fishermen can possess river herring in joint and coastal waters of North Carolina.

Rawls said they've seen instances where fishermen use the herring as bait to catch bass and other fish.


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