Hunting, fishing rights on the ballot in North Carolina

Read the original article by Douglas Kennedy and Rebecca Kesten at here.

There’s nothing Brant McMullan likes more than fishing for redfish with his son on his Yellowfin boat, with his Yamaha F300 outboard motors off the coast of North Carolina.

“Fishing is a way of life for us,” McMullan said, joined out on the water by his son and his father.

But today, he fears for fishing’s future, particularly for sport-fisherman like himself. McMullan told Fox News he’s concerned that over the past few decades, sport-fisherman have been getting squeezed out of the fishing industry, as a result of increasing “regulations and pressure.”

That’s exactly why he’s supporting a ballot measure in North Carolina that would enshrine the right to fish and hunt in the state constitution. What McMullan fears most, he said, is a regulatory concept called “catch shares.”

That’s where the government divvies up catch limits for certain species of fish among commercial fishermen. McMullan explained that sport-anglers like himself are left out.

“It’s a precious resource,” he said while aboard his boat, “and it’s important that it be available.” McMullan agrees with critics of the ballot measure who say this will privatize the fishing industry to the detriment of those who are fishing for fun.

On the other hand, Ashley Byrne from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) told Fox News that “fishing is a blood sport just like hunting.” PETA opposes the ballot measure, in part because, Byrne says, we’ve already caught too many fish.

“Fish populations are dwindling as a result of overfishing,” Byrne said, adding, “There are estimates that say many large fish populations could be extinct in our lifetimes.”

McMullan doesn’t agree.

Following the catch of an enormous redfish, he said, “well, the proof is in the pudding I’m holding in my hands.”

“I will say,” McMullan challenged, “I have fished for over two decades – and the fisheries are extremely healthy.”

He’s also supporting the Modern Fish Act, which is currently before Congress. McMullan said it’s the only way to truly level the playing field and keep fishing viable for decades to come.

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