Walking to Cape Point, banning fishing nets, and beach weather - Shooting The Breeze


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Don't feed the animal… | Home | Budget, Buxton beach,…

Walking to Cape Point, banning fishing nets, and beach weather

Friday 27 May 2016 at 5:31 pm.

The long Memorial Day weekend is here already, and it's starting out hot and sunny.  

The National Hurricane Center is keeping an eye on some showers and thunderstorms northwest of the Bahamas that its forecasters are giving a 90 percent chance of becoming a tropical or subtropical storm by tomorrow.

But the good news in the forecast is that the local National Weather Service Office in Newport/Morehead City says that the main issues for the Outer Banks will be an increasing chance of showers and thunderstorms and perhaps an increased threat of rip currents along our beaches.

If a tropical cyclone develops, it will likely be weak and named Bonnie. It will also likely be short-lived as it moves inland over South Carolina, meanders around and moves north or northeast over eastern North Carolina, perhaps keeping our weather unsettled until the middle of next week.

The Weather Service is monitoring the situation and Dare County Emergency Manager Drew Pearson suggests we all keep an eye on the weather and the updated forecasts at www.weather.gov/mhx/.

The local office also has a terrific new beach forecast page, which is technically "experimental," but really useful.  You can  click here  to go to the page, which gives you not only the beach forecast for areas along the North Carolina coast, but will also tell you such things as the rip current risk and the UV index.

We have put a link to the beach forecast on the home page of The Island Free Press -- on the right-hand side toward the top.

The beach forecast page also includes information on identifying rip currents and rip current safety.

Rip currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore.  They typically extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone, and past the line of the breaking waves. Rip currents can occur on any beach with breaking waves but occur more frequently in areas of jetties, groins, piers, and inlets.

Many of our visitors don't realize how dangerous rip currents can be -- many, if not most, of the drownings at the seashore are attributable to rip currents.

And, if you are a weather geek, you will also like the local Weather Service Office's new Tropical Information Page.  It has lots of historical information on tropical cyclones in our area and their impacts --dating back to 1851. You can click here to get to that page.


In past summers when access to Cape Point -- for pedestrians and off-road vehicles -- has been blocked by a resource closure for nesting shorebirds, some hardy anglers and beachcombers have walked in the water to get out to Point.
But that is not going to work this summer.

In nesting seasons, there has been a closure between Ramp 44 and Cape Point, but the Point itself has not been closed -- you just couldn't get there.

This season, the American oystercatchers have set up in the same area between Ramp 44 and Cape Point, but the area of the Point is much smaller -- there just not much sand out there. The result is that the bird nests are much closer to the shoreline and to the Point.

In addition to the oystercatchers, Hatteras Island District ranger Joe Darling says that the large area of nesting colonial waterbirds -- including black skimmers, least terns, and common terns -- is only 150 meters from Cape Point.  The required buffer distance is 180 meters -- which would technically extend the buffer out into the ocean.

If you are standing on Cape Point, he says, you are in violation of the closure.

Tim Havens, Cape Hatteras National Seashore law enforcement specialist, had this reply to an Island Free Press reader's question about walking to the Point:

"Walking in the water adjacent to the park boundary can pose several issues for anglers.  First and foremost, safety is a huge concern.  The NPS does not recommend anglers walk in the ocean outside of the NPS boundary to avoid a temporary wildlife closure because they would be violating federal regulations if they became tired and needed to walk onto the beach (into the closure).  Even if anglers stayed outside the NPS boundary the entire time, (the) disturbance that they caused to the wildlife within the temporary closure area would be a violation of federal regulations.  Temporary wildlife closures and buffers are in place to protect federally listed species, species of concern, and other wildlife at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  

"The best way to avoid a potentially unsafe condition that may result in a fine is to avoid walking in the water adjacent to temporary wildlife closures."    

Darling also points out that some of the nests are getting ready to hatch, and, if the birds  successfully raise their chicks to fledging on their first attempt, there is the chance that Cape Point can re-open earlier in the summer.

In some past summers, when the first nests have been lost to storms or other causes, the birds have re-nested, pushing the re-opening of the Point until later in the season.

So this summer, let's hope that the birds successfully and quickly raise their young and send them on their way.


Once again, an inland member of the North Carolina General Assembly has introduced a bill to ban net fishing in coastal waters.

This time it's Rep. William Richardson, a Fayetteville Democrat, who introduced House Bill 1122 early in the session -- on May 10.

The bill calls for a referendum in which voters would decide the fate of marine net fishing -- which is maybe just a little more democratic than an outright ban.

However, if the referendum should happen to be approved, it would be unlawful to use "either a gill net or other entangling net in costal fishing waters for the purpose of catching or taking any saltwater finfish, shellfish, or other marine animals."

Furthermore, it calls for a referendum in November -- just about five months from now.  That isn't anywhere close to the amount of time that would be necessary to educate inland voters about the importance of commercial fishing to the economy and culture of the coast.

The stated purpose of this net ban is that the marine resources of the state, which belong to all of the people "should be conserved and managed for the benefit of the state and its people, and future generations." A net ban, the bill says, would protect these marine resources from unnecessary killing, overfishing, and waste."

First of all, there are already so many state and federal regulations to prevent "unnecessary killing, overfishing, and waste" that fishermen can barely keep track of them from day to day.

But, more importantly, I always wonder where these politicians who want to ban net fishing think the people of North Carolina are going to get their seafood.  From South Carolina?  From Virginia?  Maybe from foreign countries where there probably is overfishing and where the safety of the seafood may be in question?

There no reason to get too worried yet about this latest in a long line of attempts to hurt our commercial fishermen and our coastal economy.  HB 1122 has been banished to the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations -- a place where many bills go to die a quiet death.

The Dare County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution opposing the bill at its May 16 meeting.  You can click here to read it.

fifteen comments


Geez, enough already. Cobia, nets, what’s next. If we “over“fish something, God will make more of them. Just try to take my nets

nulokal - 27-05-’16 19:39

I kayak to the point, do not have to step foot on the point, just fish it. Accessible from North and South driving beach.

Bud - 27-05-’16 19:56

Rep. Richardson needs to go offshore fishing for a week with one or more of our local commercial fishermen before introducing a bill.

bbc - 27-05-’16 22:30
Salvo jimmy

According to the NOAA site on storm surge, your local weather office (Newport) will have storm surge prediction info when needed.

Salvo jimmy - 28-05-’16 18:25

Nulokal, do you know the word “extinct”? When they are all gone, they are really gone. Maybe you and your nets should be gone if you think Mother Ocean owes you a livelihood.

Ruthless - 28-05-’16 18:30

I should add, kayaking into the point is ONLY for experienced waterman with a high degree of fitness. If you get into trouble, you must get out of it yourself. It is a very dangerous area on even a calm day.

Bud - 30-05-’16 07:37
Jim L.

We have been warned for years to quite killing those large female cobia that are 60lb plus because they are full of roe. Also knew that would never happen in this greedy world today. Lots of real stupid fishermen riding around in boats that will never catch on. Now you pay the price….get it? Also, tell me truthfully that 90 pound cobia taste good…rather have a fresh 2 lb blue.

Jim L. - 30-05-’16 12:39
avon resident

A net ban would be a good thing!

Right now we have 5-10 net boats stringing nets from Hatteras Inlet to Cape Point.

They take a significant part of the spanish a bluefish catch leaving the recreational angler with scraps at best. Often they make fishing the hook impossible.

We allow a few residents to scrape out a living (ever see a rich net boater?) while denying the recreational guys much of a catch at all.

It is the recreational fishermen who bring their families, rent homes, spend money at our shops and keep our island economy alive.

We would be better off paying the commercial net guys a few $$ (how much can they really be making after boat, fuel, bait, mate, expenses) and having them leave the fish for the recreational and charter guys.

Its the economics of greed by these net boats. Its the economics of stupidity to those of us trying to live here and earn a decent wage.

We need to wake up and recognize we are a tourist economy with a great fishing resource. Let us not let a few take most of it at the expense of many.

avon resident - 30-05-’16 12:43

That would be like banning the use of any weapon for the purpose of taking a deer. What are you suppose to use your car?

Dumps - 30-05-’16 17:49

@avon resident,

In response to your comment: “We allow a few residents to scrape out a living (ever see a rich net boater?) while denying the recreational guys much of a catch at all.”

Seriously?? “Scrape out a living”? Judgmental much??

Many of us that live and work in the village (in support of the tourist industry), rely on netting to feed our families throughout the year.

A net ban would literally take food out of my kids mouths.

Plus subsistence netting/ fishing, has been, and still is, an integral part of island culture.

Bottom line…

When it comes to choosing between “denying the recreational guys much of a catch at all” and feeding my kids and my family…

Well… You do the math…

Chica - 30-05-’16 20:22

Net bans in the minds of those not having to depend on fishing for a living means absolutely nothing. Where when you purchase fish and shell fish caught locally in NC come from. It does not magically appear. There are hard working people who depend upon fishing for a livelihood. It feeds and clothes their families. Provides for a year around economy where you may vacation a few days a year. Out of sight out of mind is the world we live in today. I am thankful I came from many generations of watermen who believe it or not thawed frozen turtles in their homes, cut six pack holders from the feet of birds and made sure the culled their catches. However to hear and read some comments you would think we were the worst people GOD created. Many of our parents made sure we didn’t have to fish for a living encouraging us to teach,join the military, become law enforcement officers and so on. They wanted us to have it better than they did. So the next time you eat seafood in a restaurant in North Carolina ask yourself is it local and don’t by golly gripe about the price or the portion. In some cases now it comes from overseas because of some absurd regulation. I am proud of the North Carolina Watermen and women farmers of the sea just as I am the farmers on land. Some people like the legislator have never had to want for anything and therefore don’t really understand. Knuff said.

One Proud Hatterasman.

Olesalt21 - 30-05-’16 22:30
avon resident

I simply stated that net fishing is bad for the major driving force of our economy- Tourism.

Net fishing takes away from the enjoyment of fishing on the island for both recreational and charter boat anglers.

I have heard this repeatedly from surf fishermen and private boat owners.
Additionally, I have also heard it (albeit very quietly) from more than a couple of charter captains.

Consider a simple example.
500 Spanish caught in a gill net may be provide a days wage for a net boat captain, and mate. After expenses, Maybe. Maybe not.

The same fish caught by recreational anglers on a charter boat would comprise almost 10 half day trips charter income (10 spanish per angler per day limit).

That represents a good weeks wages for a charter captain and mate.

On a private boat It approximates the daily limit for 10-15 recreational boats (I assume 3-5 anglers per boat which seems reasonable).

These charter patrons and private boat anglers come to Hatteras, rent houses, eat at restaurants, buy tackle, ice,bait, etc.

Gill nets protect the livelihood of few and fewer while they impact negatively the livelihood of more and more.

I realize this new reality challenges many old timers in our community. We must work to find a way to move forward in light of the changing world we live in.

avon resident - 31-05-’16 15:39
salvo jimmy

avon resident

Those that “eat at restaurants” would likely not be eating as much seafood without the netters. Maybe have to eventually settle for beanie weinies. Would they keep coming???

Also where do you think all the mullet and bunker bait used by recreational folks that “buy bait” in a tackle shop comes from? Would they still come with no such bait??

Maybe the law of unintended consequences needs to be considered.

salvo jimmy - 31-05-’16 18:29

The recreational fishing industry and associations have always competed
against the commercial fishing industry through lobbying and court cases. No matter what the “ sports” say, their money and power are actually directed against commercial fisherman. That’s something to think about the next time you see rod racks, club stickers, and anti-environmental rhetoric on those oversized land yachts. The occupants might say one thing, but their money and political efforts say something completely different.

guest - 01-06-’16 09:24
Al Adam

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of compassion for those who bring us our fresh, local fish. I don’t care for farmed fish but if the regulators can’t reach a balance with the commercial fishing industry all we will have is those “pond products.”

Al Adam - 02-06-’16 08:14

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