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A voice for our Coastal Marine Resources

The most significant environmental issue

facing North Carolina today is the demise

of our Coastal Marine Resources.

Pamlico Sound, North Carolina


Our Mission

The North Carolina Coastal Fisheries Reform Group mission is, in association with our conservation partners, to change how the State of North Carolina manages our public trust marine resources.  The demise of our marine resources is the most significant environmental issue facing North Carolina today.  We will support the implementation of a new comprehensive management plan to restore our fisheries back to the world class fisheries that they once were.

The Issue

North Carolina is blessed with over 2.3 million acres of inshore estuaries. The largest body of estuarine waters on the east coast. Since the enactment of the Fisheries Reform Act of 1997, North Carolina fisheries have been in significant decline across all fisheries.The citizens of North Carolina are demanding reform to our failing fisheries and an update to the Fisheries Reform Act of 1997 is way overdue. Fish landings have decreased over the past two decades from 38.5 million pounds to 4.9 million pounds, an 88% decrease. Without meaningful change the decline will continue. This historic failure of coastal fisheries management is a failure in governance by the states Executive Branch, which includes the Governor, the Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) and the Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC). The leadership of DEQ and DMF serve at the pleasure of the Governor and the Governor has appointed all 9 members of the MFC. Our fisheries are public trust resources belonging to all Citizens of North Carolina not recreational fishermen or commercial fishermen and we need a comprehensive fishery management plan to manage all of our coastal and marine resources.  A plan that is based on scientific data not politics and money.  A plan that manages our resources for sustainability, can be implemented quickly and can be changed quickly in response to supporting scientific data. With the support of concerned citizens, recreational fishermen, and commercial fisherman, our position is to take the existing law and re-write and remove sections that have prevented timely management decisions and add changes in areas that would aid in the management and sustainability of our fisheries. Healthy fisheries in North Carolina would mean billions of dollars of economic impact to the citizens of North Carolina.

View excerpt from WRAL's "Net Effect" documentary for more context relating to the "Issue".



Gear (Commercial/Recreational)


North Carolina is the only state on the Atlantic and Gulf coast that permits extensive trawling in inshore estuarine waters. It is no surprise that the highest levels of bycatch of juvenile species in North Carolina waters are found in the Pamlico Sound, which is a highly productive nursery area for several species of finfish and other marine species including the blue crab. Commercially and recreationally valuable species, including Atlantic croaker, spot, grey trout, and southern flounder are in unknown, depleted, and /or overfished status. In fact, these species also account for the vast majority of finfish bycatch in North Carolina waters. Currently, hundreds of millions of juvenile fish fall victim to shrimp trawl bycatch each year, and therefore never get the chance to spawn. 

Excerpt from WRAL's "Net Effect" documentary 

Gill Nets (Gear - Commercial/Recreational)

Gill nets are employed in North Carolina to harvest finfish. While mesh sizes may be required to select for a specific size of a specific fish, the bycatch of other species, including sea turtles, dolphins, porpoise, birds, and whales is variable but common. Efforts to control the unique magnitude of the scope and scale of the North Carolina gill net fishery include mesh sizes, net length, soak times, areas, tie downs, attendance requirements, and observer coverage. Despite these efforts, North Carolina has the most permissive regulations relative to gill nets on the east and gulf coasts of this country. 

Excerpt from WRAL's "Net Effect" documentary 

Coastal Fishing License Reform

There are several provisions to the commercial and recreational fishing license statutes that have resulted in insufficient and incomplete harvest records over the years, which have hampered the development of sound management measures based upon accurate harvest statistics. 

Excerpt from WRAL's "Net Effect" documentary 

Management and Enforcement

Wasteful and excessive duplication of responsibilities, programs, personnel and services continue to plague the management of North Carolina’s coastal marine resources.

Excerpt from WRAL's "Net Effect" documentary 

Trawling Problem
GIll Nets Problem
Management Problem
Enforcement Problem


Gear (Commercial/Recreational)

Trawling Remedy

Unfortunately, as of Aug. 5, 2020, the trawling remedy is in the hands of a Federal court.  Please visit our site often for updates.  You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram to remain informed.  Please take a moment to view the clip below for more context.

Excerpt from WRAL's "Net Effect" documentary 

Gill Nets Remedy

Management of gill nets in coastal North Carolina is essential to the recovery of all coastal resources. Options for consideration will reduce discard mortality on all finfish species and interaction with sea turtles, dolphin, marine mammals and birds. 


NCCFRG recommends the following options for consideration in the North Carolina gill net fishery.

Excerpt from WRAL's "Net Effect" documentary 

Coastal Fishing License Reform Remedy

The objective of HB 486 is to develop a core cadre of experienced and skillful commercial fishermen who will benefit from expanded opportunities to harvest commercial fisheries and who will realize more income from reduction of competition from license holders who do not depend upon commercial fishing for their basic subsistence. 

Excerpt from WRAL's "Net Effect" documentary 

Management and Enforcement Remedy

Consolidation of the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries into the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission will eliminate redundancy and improve natural resource management effectiveness.

Excerpt from WRAL's "Net Effect" documentary 

Trawling Remedy
Gill Net Remedy
Coastal FIshing Lic Reform


NCCFRG is a Section 501(c) (3) charitable organization.

All donations are deemed tax-deductible absent any limitations on deductibility applicable to a particular taxpayer. No goods or services were provided in exchange for your contribution.

Become a MEMBER OF NCCFRG TODAY by making a donation.  Join our cause to restore our precious coastal marine fisheries to the world class fisheries that they once were.


Please consider assisting NCCFRG with a financial contribution.  Your donation will be used to further our Mission.  The Issue is serious and the Problems are numerous.  Please see our Remedies section. It's imperative that we act now, as our coastal resources are in serious decline. VISA and Mastercard accepted.  For checks or money orders, please mail to:

NCCFRG, PO Box 10539, Wilmington, NC 28404. (Please don't send cash)

Your information will be treated as confidential and will not be shared.


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