Senate budget prohibits controversial fisheries agreement with Feds

Credit: Sherry Ezhuthachan Oregon Inlet, NC

Credit: Sherry Ezhuthachan Oregon Inlet, NC

Credit: Sherry Ezhuthachan
Oregon Inlet, NC

RALEIGH – The N.C. Senate unveiled its proposed state budget today. In it, the Senate prohibited the NC Division of Marine Fisheries from making a deal with the federal government that would allow the state agency to jointly enforce federal regulations in North Carolina’s state waters and beyond. This budget item comes after previous attempts by the chambers to either require the so-called JEA or prohibit it. The 2013-14 budget allowed the governor to decide on whether the state should enter into the JEA.

“We’ve been steadfast in our opposition to JEA,” said Jerry Schill, President of the North Carolina Fisheries Association. “The successful lawsuits we’ve initiated against the feds were successful in part because the state of North Carolina was a plaintiff with us. Once they start taking money from the federal government, they will be hesitant to bite the hand that feeds them.”

Eighteen legislators from areas along the N.C. coast asked Gov. Pat McCrory not to support the agreement. If the ban on a deal survives the budget process, JEA will be dead in the water.