The General Assembly has appropriated $250,000 to the UNC Sea Grant College Program to study the state's fishing industry and collect such data as numbers of commercial and recreational fishermen and types of gear used.
Hyrdoacoustic technology that the Navy developed during World War II is assisting North Carolina Sea Grant researchers in assessing the number of menhaden and other fish stocks in state estuaries and sounds and in seeking answers to such questions as the impact of nutrient loading on fish in estuaries. Green discusses current fishery research studies.
The North Carolina Coastal Fisheries Resource Grant Program was created in 1994 by the North Carolina General Assembly \"to protect and enhance the state's coastal fishing resources through individual grants.\" Henderson discusses some of the projects funded by the grants and their results.
Sneads Ferry is the top producer of black sea bass in the South Atlantic. Lee reports on a North Carolina Fishery Resource Grant project that seeks to study the efficiency and effectiveness of different configurations of black sea bass pots. The project has three main tasks: to determine if a certain pot type catches more legal sea bass; discover if a particular pot type catches more undersized sea bass; and compare the health of the released sub-legal sea bass from each pot type. The study is being conducted in Onslow Bay.
The fishing industry is in trouble. Without an increase in local sales, many fishermen may be forced to shut down their businesses. Most seafood is sent north rather than west into the state which could be part of the problem.
Graduate students are teaming with fishermen to help sustain the catch. According to Eileen Vandenburgh and Galen Johnson, fishermen understand more on some issues than scientists do because they interact with the marine environment every day. Local knowledge is helping them have a better understanding of clam and shrimp populations.
Fishery biologists with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission are studying Badin Lake in an attempt to improve fishing. The biologists are especially interested in studying the feeding habits of fish and their population levels.
North Carolina Sea Grant’s Marine Fisheries Fellowship program has given graduate students the opportunity to work directly in fisheries and resource management. Four former marine fisheries fellows from 2016 are now conducting research from the continental shelf of Florida to the lakes of Oregon.
For decades, menhaden was North Carolina’s number one commercial fishery by volume. Concerns about overfishing led to changes in harvest allocations and a menhaden reduction fishery. Researchers are investigating the socioeconomic impact of the Atlantic menhaden fishery on East Coast states, and how policy changes might affect the industry.