Fishermen rally in Raleigh to cast their lines against HB 867

More than 350 commercial fishermen and family members rallied in Raleigh on Wednesday against HB 867. (Photo courtesy of NCFA)

Fishermen from up and down the North Carolina coast loaded up vans and headed to the State Capitol on Wednesday, protesting a measure they say could place arbitrary restrictions on how much they can catch.

Organized by the North Carolina Fisheries Association, more than 200 commercial fishermen descended on Raleigh to show their opposition to House Bill 867, which the NCFA says would unnecessarily increase regulations on the fishing industry in a broad and vague manner.

Jonathan Fulcher, a fourth generation fisherman and manager of B&J's Seafood, says the bill puts his livelihood in danger.

"A lot of people really start putting it together when you look at them face to face and say 'look you know this is gonna take my money that I pay my house payment with, this is gonna take food of my table, I'm not going to be able to send my kids to college because of this bill," Fulcher told NewsChannel 12 on Thursday. "It's that bad - it's serious.

Though many who attended the Seafood Lobby Day feel they were successful in getting legislators to back off the bill, the NCFA says the industry won't be in the clear for sure until the session adjourns - likely sometime next month.

Fishermen like Fulcher say they aren't entirely opposed to regulations, such as quotas and bycatch reduction methods, but they want t make sure their input is considered.

The NCFA provided legislators with the framework for a new bill, which includes items they believe are critical to ensuring the economic security of the fishermen while serving consumers well.

The bill was filed by four Republican representatives, including two from eastern North Carolina: Ted Davis Jr., of New Hanover, and Majority Leader John Bell IV of Wayne County.

According to the Carteret County News-Times, the original bill had the backing of the North Carolina chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association, which has concerns about overfishing.