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Letters: Gill Netting In Oriental's Creeks
Controversy Just Off Shore
October 8, 2014

ill netting in Oriental has been the subject of discussion before. The dictionary definition of a gill net is:

A fishing net set vertically in the water so that fish swimming into it are entangled by the gills in its mesh.
In 2003 the Town Board discussed banning gill nets in the waters off Oriental. Instead of creating a law, then Mayor Sherrill Styron talked to area gill netting fisherman and asked them to stop the activity off Oriental’s waters. It appeared to work, at least for a while.

An Oriental citizen writes in that gill netting is back, and he sees a problem:

Local fishermen and marina guests enjoyed good fishing last week at Whittaker Pointe Marina, caught a few nice spotted trout off of the docks. Not this week. Over the weekend, a local gill netter came in at night and netted about 60 pounds of trout out of the creek around the marina. Then sold it for $2.50 a pound to a local fish house. I hope he enjoys his $150.

Many of us, and many of our tourists, came to this area for both the sailing and the fishing. But the gill netters working our creeks decimate the fishing and the stock. Whittaker Creek is a “primary nursery area” (PNA), designated by the State. We have to get a CAMA permit to even drive a piling at the marina. Why do they allow gill netting in the same area?

CAMA prevented us from building a granite jetty off Whittaker Point to protect the marina and the creek because it might “confuse” the fish trying to enter the PNA. When actually the granite jetty would have provided a haven, as most fishermen know. But as we know, state and government logic is sadly lacking. Hence you can gill net in a PNA, which is totally without logic.

I know commercial fishermen have to make a living, and it isn’t easy. But gill netters should stay out of our creeks and the primary nursery areas.

Thank you,

Ashley Erwin
Dock Master
Whittaker Pointe Marina

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