A controversial House bill that would cut off commercial catching of certain types of fish was the subject of public debate Monday. Lawmakers would reclassify red drum, speckled trout and striped bass as game fish - only caught by recreational fishermen - if House Bill 983 becomes law.
Recreational and commercial fishermen and others came to Raleigh to debate the issue before legislators. Chuck Monkridge supports the bill. He says it is a money issue.
"The bottom line is the state by default must manage these public trust resources to provide the highest total economic return to the state of North Carolina," Monkridge says.
Others say limiting species to sport fishing is a job killer. Jess Hawkins is a recreational fisherman who opposes the bill.
"To reallocate this public trust resource to a user group the represents only three -to-five percent of the state's population would be like restricting our beaches and sounds to a small minority group of a certain socioeconomic class," Hawkins says.
Restaurateurs also spoke against the bill saying it would make locally caught fish disappear from their menus.