North Carolina Watermen United

Protecting Your Freedom To Fish

Protecting Your Freedom To Fish


Thank You for All of Your Support

While We Work

To Protect Your Freedom to Fish


NCWU would like to wish all of its Members and Their Families

A Very Merry Christmas

And a Happy New Year

Letter from the President

Ladies and Gentlemen of the NCWU,


We are closing in on the end of the old year, and looking forward to the beginning of a New Year.


This past year has been one for the record book. We have seen birth, and we have felt the pain of death; we have seen illness, and we have witnessed healing.


One of the most obvious things we have seen on the fisheries front is the firing of the old NCDMF Director and the hiring of a new one. The cast of characters is the same, but the marque is different…


As our prediction turned into reality, the rats are scrambling. The CCA/RFA does want a net ban. They are a special interest group that represents less than 1 percent of NC anglers, and yet, they want full control of our resources. As we predicted, they would eventually turn on the charter/headboat sector and eventually the recreational angler that they falsely purport to “represent.” Just this past year, the CCA/RFA-dominated Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) passed a charade, called a “supplement” that restricted all anglers from engaging in the harvest of southern flounder. Now, at the latest MFC meeting, we see the same cadre of liars asking for a moratorium on the harvest of rockfish. Show me the Science!


The NCWU has contended for a long time that sea turtles, and ultimately sturgeon, are merely a convenient way to restrict gillnet usage. Again, Where is the Science? The NCWU ITP Team knows more about the history of the ITP that those in the state who control it.


Of course, we can’t talk about this year without talking about Super Tuesday. Prior to Election Day, Governor Pat McCrory spit in the face of coastal communities and fishing families by re-appointing Chuck Laughridge to the MFC, and going so far as to change his seat designation to Recreational rather than At-large. The other new appointments are equally laughable, and the MFC has turned into only a dog-and pony show.


Now, here comes the BUT – But, Voters turned out on Election Day and voted Pat Out. Although we have serious reservations about Roy Cooper, he will replace a two-faced, lying RINO (Republican-in-Name-Only). Pat listened to the advice of the state GOP head, Robin Hayes, when he named his MFC Appointments. Hayes is also the Senior Advisor for the North Carolina Wildlife Federation – the group who allied themselves with the Southern Environmental Law Center to present a paper calling for a ban on shrimping in state waters. This is the same crowd that has been the reason for Oregon Inlet Bridge not being replaced sooner and our inlets and channels not being dredged that is now in bed with the state’s GOP leader in the call to ban shrimping.


Lastly, at least for this letter, is the issue of Jimmy Dixon and John Bell. These NCGA Representatives attended a CC/RFA group hug down south with House Member Richardson, who ran on a net ban platform. Dixon and Bell joined the other CCA/RFA cheerleaders in giving Richardson a standing ovation after his pep talk about net bans and shrimp trawl bans.


The gray is rapidly dissolving and the issues are becoming black and white. Truth vs. the lie. Beverly Boswell won her race for the House and has vowed to support fishermen. Our Senate members are increasingly pressing for reform. We have the wish list of the CCA/RFA that they gave to Roy Cooper, and many of these initiatives are aimed squarely at the charter/headboat sector.


We are salting our commissions, boards and associations with common-sense members. We are fighting, and we’re winning. We’re taking a beating, but we’re making a difference. We can’t do it without you. Wade in, and throw a punch. After all, it’s YOUR fish and YOUR freedom that we’re fighting for!


Have a wonderful Christmas and Peace-filled New Year.


Blessings, Shack



Melba Milak

NCWU Executive Secretary


I’ve listened to this question over and over, “What’s NCWU doin’ for me?


I’ve heard commercial fishermen, who are all part of NCFA by default, say that NCWU is for the charter/headboat crowd. I’ve heard charter/headboat operators say that NCWU is too involved in commercial issues; I’ve heard recreational fishermen (Those who do not make a living on the water) rail at everybody for taking too many fish and not leaving any for their grandchildren. I’ve heard people say that they do not like This Guy on the Board or THAT Guy who is a member or Some Other Person who is part of the organization. Please remember -  this is about FISHING, not personalities!


Somebody told Perry Wood Beasley, one of our NCWU Board Members, “I don’t need to join, they’re taking care of it.” To which he replied,” They is US, and we need to be involved.”


We are busy every day – paying attention to our state’s fishery actions, monitoring our regional South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) and MidAtlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) organizations’ meetings and activities and are ever-watchful of NMFS trends. We have members who attend every meeting that concerns the fishing industry; we offer comments at every possible opportunity; we work with state and US Congress Legislators to keep fishing viable for ALL – commercial harvesters, charter/headboat operator-owners and recreational fishermen who tow their boats to the North Carolina coast or surf-fish in the Atlantic.


And so, to summarize what we have been doing this past year, we have –

  • Continued to work against the Supplement Process Flounder Fishery Management Plan
  • Donated money to support the NCFA flounder injunction.
  • Attended the NC Catch Summit meeting in Beaufort in Marcch
  • Co-sponsored a Legislative Dinner in Raleigh in May for all Legislators and Staff.
  • Had a telephone conference in May with NOAA Protected Species representatives and the NC Division of Marine Fisheries about the Incidental Take Permit (ITP) involving Sea Turtles and Gillnets. NCWU has an ITP Team – Perry Wood Beasley, Andrew Berry, Ernie Doshier, Ernie Foster, Troy Outland and Britt Shackelford specially appointed by the Board – that has been working for two years to make modifications to the 2013 ITP.
  • Attended another sea turtle and gillnets meeting in Wanchese set up by David Bush, NCFA Marine Biologist
  • Had 4 members - Duke Spencer, Perry Wood Beasley, Bobby Smith and David Daniels that attended the JEA Advisory Panel meeting in New Bern in June to discuss NCWU’s Opposition to JEA. Duke made a motion that North Carolina not enter into a JEA agreement; the motion was seconded and passed.
  • Set up a Meet Dr. Braxton Davis question-and-answer meeting in Manteo in August after he was appointed as the new Director of the NCDMF in May.
  • Wrote a RESOLUTION to support the 2016 Legislative Budget items that included changes to the NC Marine Fisheries Commission.
  • Donated money to the Hatteras Relief Fund in November to help the fishing fleet buy new channel markers that were lost during Hurricane Matthew.
  • Set up Information Booths at the Morehead City Fisherman’s Village & NC Seafood Festival,  Hatteras Day at the Docks and the NC State Fair in Raleigh.
  • Continued working against the Shrimp Trawl Ban; an issue that first came up in 2013 and has re-surfaced this year.

Please don’t assume that we are not helping you; we are working for ALL three Sectors – commercial harvesters, charter/headboat operators and recreational fishermen – both for local and out-of-state visitors who come here to fish and eat seafood - to safeguard the right to fish. Please join, so we can continue to “Protect the Freedom to Fish” for everybody.


Reflections of a BusyYear

 Kathy Sparrow, Membership



Every year I think. . . . there can’t be more complexities to the North Carolina Fishing Industry – but then there is.  I marvel at the twists and terms.  While the year started slowly enough . . . it heated up fast when Gov. McCrory decided to remove Dr. Daniel from the head of the Marine Fishery Commission.  The press said he resigned.  There was a page asking for his resignation that had close to 500 signatures.  But he’d been in place for 9 long years.  And left in an instant.  BAM!!


Not a month later we were thick into planning a NC Legislative Seafood Dinner with every organization in the state that represented NC seafood.  And boy was it a success!!!  We served over 700 people – most State Legislators and their staffs who make up the General Assembly and the decision makers for NC.  This is probably something we will be asked to head up again in 2017.


Simultaneously, NCWU started its 2016 membership drive.  I wait till AFTER tax day each year.  Most appreciate that.  Some pay me $50 here and $50 there.  Others just send the check in.  But something that has always surprised me, is that most say:  “Thank you for all you do.”  I think I should be thanking them for all YOU do!  I’m after all a paper pusher.  You bring in a real product!


Later this summer, we had a GREAT fundraiser on one of the hottest days of summer.  Three NCWU captains, Brit Shackelford, Greg Meyer, and Charlie Griffin all competed in the third season of WICKED TUNA:  OUTER BANKS.  How fortunate for us.  We had great volunteers, great captains and a packed house!!!  Most fortunate of all was that NCWU netted just about $5000 that night.


Later this summer we invited the NEW director of NCMFDivision, Dr. Braxton Davis to visit the Outer Banks; meet with area fishermen who had questions to ask; and have dinner with him and some of the other statesmen from the area.  Another good night for NCWU.  We had over 75 people show up at the Dare County Building to meet with Dr. Braxton and we had 24 Board members, politicians, and others meet after for a private dinner.  And the event was underwritten by Fin Gaddy, one of our members.


Could we have more members???  Yes!!!  WE NEED MORE MEMBERS!  Particularly with the raft of challenges that are facing us with the end of 2016.

  • NCWU support of the legal battle with the Flounder Injunction still in court
  • The current petition by NC Wildlife Federation to make ALL coastal waters secondary nurseries with the effect being to ban shrimp boats and others from those waters (this comes to a head in February).
  • The appointments by Gov. McCrory to the NCMFCommission – against the average fisherman, meaning the Commission is virtually stacked against commercial fishermen (6-3).
  • AND the unknown –  incoming Governor Roy Cooper – who is thought to be appointing David Knight to be Secretary of DENR. (not a friend to commercial fishing efforts).

So if you thought this article is a pitch for finding new members?  It is!  Together we stand.  They can join on   Or give me a call at 252-305-6094 and I’ll sign you up myself!

High and Dry

Melba Milak

Many boat captains - who worry as much (or more) about their boats as their houses - took their boats to Wanchese and had them “hauled” before Hurricane Matthew caused flooding and wind damage on October 9, 2016.


It was an amazing surreal sight – so many boats that it seemed Wanchese might sink under the weight! The boats looked very “out of their element,” sitting on jackstands, high and dry, so far above the ground that ladders had to be used to board.  Their elegant lines curved off into the sky; their hulls were fully exposed and allowed many crews the time to scrape the bottom and do minor repair work.


Spencer’s Yachts who had over 50 boats, Wanchese Dock and Haul who had several more, and Bayliss Boatworks with about 50 were busy the whole week before the storm. Theyl reported happily that all the boats were safe; there was no damage to any of them, and they were soon back out on the water.

Risky Business

Capt Jamie Wescott

Sea Angel II

Capt Bruce Armstrong

Point Runner

Capt Danny Wadsworth

Sea Toy

Capt Bull Tolson

Rigged Up

Capt Charles Haywood

Country Girl

Capt Charles Foreman

Photos at Spencers Yachts and Wanchese Dock and Haul

Courtesy of Reflections

Photos Courtesyof Bayliss Boatworks











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