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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

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Marine Fisheries - MFC Input

Marine Fisheries

Marine Fisheries Commission — How it Works

By Lauren Morris
Fish Eye News
Archive: July 2009

When big fisheries issues surface such as recent user conflicts over spotted sea trout and red drum interested people often want to know how to get involved.

In North Carolina, the answer always includes the Marine Fisheries Commission, or MFC, nine people who serve three-year staggered terms at the pleasure of the governor and establish fisheries policies for the state Division of Marine Fisheries. 

The commissioners are chosen to represent user groups and regions, so that all interests are fairly represented in the fisheries management process. People can contact commissioners, or submit comments at one of the MFC’s scheduled business meetings.

There’s another way for those who want to become more actively involved. Residents may apply to be appointed to an advisory committee.

“The advisors give the MFC important input from the citizens,” said Mac Currin, chairman of the MFC. “We get great scientific advice from the Division of Marine Fisheries, but what we often are lacking is the average fisherman’s perspective. That is who we are managing our state’s fisheries for, and their input and opinions are valuable.” 

 There are four standing committees on the matters of crustacean, shellfish, finfish, habitat and water quality. Also, there are four regional committees, which are not limited to species, but discuss all issues relevant to that area. Ad hoc committees are also formed on specific subjects, such as the Coastal Recreational Fishing License, and fishery management plans. 

Pam Morris, co-chair of the Central Regional Advisory Committee, stresses “that advisory committees are in place to advise the MFC. They are not rule-making entities.”

This means the MFC is not bound by the recommendations of its committees. But Morris notes that “North Carolina is fairly unique in that we have these positions available to gain the best possible knowledge from people who collectively have the best understanding of marine fisheries issues.” 

Individuals must apply to be appointed to a committee. Eligible applicants must have no major fisheries violations within the past three years. Those interested in serving on regional committees must reside in the region for which they apply. Generally, appointments are made each January or as advisors resign.

Currin appoints the advisors, and says he selects individuals with a “desire and willingness to serve.” The most important characteristics he looks for, however, are knowledge, background, and experience. The chairman also strives for a balance of user groups and regional representation, but has noted a decline in individuals from the commercial sector willing to serve.

“I think it is important that people enter the process with an open mind, and be willing to listen and consider the opinions and concerns of other members,” Currin said.

If chosen to be an advisor, individuals will be required to attend committee meetings, the number and duration of which will vary by committee.

“There are attendance requirements,” Morris said. “A member may not miss more than two consecutive meetings without an excuse.” 

Members are expected to be prepared to discuss the agenda items and materials given to them by DMF staff. Advisors are not required to attend the MFC business meetings, but are encouraged to attend and participate whenever possible. 

MFC and advisor contact information and meeting schedules are available through the state Division of Marine Fisheries’ website, portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf, or the MFC liaison’s office at 800-682-2632.

/fen-07-09
N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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