The Coastal Game Fish Bill

House Bill 353 is an act to designate red drum, striped bass and spotted sea trout as coastal game fish. It is designed to help foster a recreational fishery currently worth exponentially more in dollars and jobs than the commercial fishery.

The bill would enhance a public trust resource for the citizens of North Carolina (and other states) and would help end over-fishing and bring North Carolina in compliance with the Fisheries Reform Act of 1997. Similar to game fish bills that have been successfully implemented in Texas and Florida, HB 353 would require that these species be harvested by hook-and-line only and it would prohibit the sale of these species.

In 2005, only 691 commercial fishermen landed a red drum and only 216 of those make more than $200 from red drum harvest.  For striped bass, the highest value commercial fishery of the three, only 614 fishermen landed striped base in the estuary fishery and only 201 fishermen landed fish in the ocean fishery.  Across both fisheries, only 68 fishermen earned more than $2,000 a year selling striped bass in 2004.  Finally, for spotted seatrout, only 921 fishermen landed spotted seatrout and only 105 landed more than $1,000 worth of spotted seatrout in 2008. This suggests that very few, if any, commercial fishermen are dependent on harvests of these three species.

Click to see CCA North Carolina Briefing Document on H.B. 353 - The Coastal Game Fish Bill

Articles about The Coastal Game Fish Bill

Game On in North Carolina

Posted on March 15, 2012

The debate over HB 353–the bill to make red drum, spotted seatrout and striped bass game fish in North Carolina – heats up. 

Healthy inshore fisheries will boost coastal and inland businesses, tackle shop owners say

Recreational anglers’ spending benefits are widespread throughout state economy.
Posted on February 06, 2012

While few people doubt the positive influence of healthy inshore saltwater fisheries on coastal businesses, not many stop to realize they also would benefit many inland businesses.

Visiting fishermen say gamefish protection would benefit coastal tourism and economies

Out-of-state tournament fishermen promise they won’t return until net conflicts are resolved; IFA tournament trail eliminates annual visit.
Posted on January 26, 2012

Even in the current depressed economy, fishermen plan their vacations around catching fish. It’s the opinion of many fishermen that North Carolina is losing out on plenty of tourist dollars that could wind up in the state’s economy if the legislature designates red drum, speckled trout and striped bass as gamefish.

VIDEO: Benefits of game fish status in three southern states.

Posted on January 25, 2012


VIDEO: Interview with Dr. Louis Daniels of NCDMF

Posted on January 25, 2012

Comments on North Carolina's coastal fisheries and the proposed Game Fish Bill.

VIDEO: Captain Charles Brown Interview

Posted on January 25, 2012

Comments on North Carolina's coastal fisheries and the proposed Game Fish Bill.

Legislators revive debate on ‘gamefish' idea

Posted on January 18, 2012

Without enough of them off the Carolina coast, Vernon's charter fishing business, Double Haul Guide Service, would be up the creek.

Restrictions keep fishermen home

Posted on January 17, 2012

This past fall, I didn’t take a trip down to the North Carolina coast. Neither did a few of my friends.

Ex-commercial angler: North Carolina needs to chart new saltwater course

Gloucester's Charles Brown says current fisheries managment led to crash of Pamilico, Albermarle sounds.
Posted on January 17, 2012

Charles Brown of Gloucester hails from a fifth-generation Down East fishing family, and proudly proclaims, “I’ve done it all.”

VIDEO: Striped Bass Gamefish

Posted on January 02, 2012

This video by Stripers Forever contains exciting footage of striped bass fishing along with appearances by some of the sport’s best-known personalities discussing the need for striped bass to be designated as game fish.

VIDEO: Benefits of Gamefish Status

Posted on August 19, 2011

Click here for benefits of Gamefish status video. 

'Game Fish' Bill Pits Commercial Fishermen vs. Recreational

Sponsors say several species more valuable to weekend anglers than those who fish for a living
Posted on August 09, 2011

RALEIGH--Red drum, spotted sea trout, and striped bass could be taken off the menu and off the market if a bill designating the three fish "game fish" becomes law. The law would make the species off-limits to commerical fishermen and consumers in order to preserve them for sports fishermen. 

North Carolina considers limits on commercial fishing

Posted on August 09, 2011

A North Carolina bill would make red drum, spotted sea trout and striped bass off limits to commercial fishermen in order to preserve them for sport fishermen.

Outdoors: Bill to give red drum, spotted seatrout and striped bass game-fish status still alive as part of study

Posted on June 26, 2011

Lost in the drama of the state Legislature's back-and-forth budget bill bickering during its last session was an issue that could change the face of coastal sportfishing in North Carolina.

NC watermen wary of latest legislative twists

Posted on June 26, 2011

Having failed this spring to reel in votes, the legislators who proposed declaring three species of fish off-limits to commercial fishermen are instead asking their colleagues to create a committee dedicated to studying that idea.

Update on NC HB 353

Posted on June 22, 2011

HB353, the NC Game Fish Bill for four species including striped bass has been sent to a special study committee and will not be voted on this year.

'Game fish' issue likely to be addressed before 2012

Posted on June 20, 2011

As the 2011 General Assembly wound to a close last week, lawmakers didn't have enough time – or energy – to take on controversial legislation that would prohibit the sale of three types of popular fish caught off the N.C. coast.

Gamefish proposal sent to new legislative panel

Posted on June 19, 2011

Legislation proposed to put striped bass off limits to commercial watermen by designating the species a gamefish has been put under the umbrella of a new legislative study committee.

Taking Liberties: Fishermen Cast Wide Net in Fight to Save Bass, Trout

Posted on June 18, 2011

On Monday, Jim Hardin was casting his 6 foot spinning rod in the Roanoke River off of the town of Plymouth in the northeast corner of North Carolina.

Taking Liberties: Fisherman vs. Fisherman

NC proposal to limit striped bass catch puts fishermen are at each other's throats
Posted on June 18, 2011

Click here to watch video.

Gamefish status bill dead, but likely to be reincarnated in 2012 short session of N.C. Legislature

Posted on June 15, 2011

The coastal saltwater gamefish status bill, HB 353, didn’t pass the June 9 crossover date to be considered in the second portion of the 2011 session of the North Carolina General Assembly.

Politics may strangle vote on game-fish bill

Posted on June 09, 2011

How is it that a bill with bipartisan, veto-proof support in the North Carolina General Assembly can’t be heard on the floor of the state House or Senate and become law?

NC Fisheries Management

Posted on June 08, 2011

A 5-minute video on NC fisheries management and the need for game fish status.

Marine management

Posted on June 07, 2011

The May 24 Point of View piece by Stephen Ammons in support of recreational fishing strikes a chord. A senior citizen now, I remember growing up around the Chesapeake Bay and watching striped bass plundered commercially so that for decades we endured a total moratorium on them.

Reeling in a win for recreational fishing

Posted on May 24, 2011

North Carolina has the opportunity to increase the economic effect of fisheries management to the entire state with a single bill. HB 353 would make striped bass, red drum and speckled trout game fish.

Game-fish bill on track to move from North Carolina House to Senate

HB 353 would prohibit commercial fishing for redfish, speckled sea trout and striped bass.
Posted on May 20, 2011

The home stretch is in sight for the fate of House Bill 353, the piece of legislation that would declare red drum, spotted seatrout and striped bass as game fish in North Carolina. coastal waters. The bill must be approved by the House and moved to the Senate by June 9 to continue through the legislative process.

Divide up the catch? A bill says no more

Posted on May 18, 2011

GLOUCESTER -- One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish," wrote Dr. Seuss.

Wouldn't he be amused with the wordplay of fish politics in North Carolina? "Red drum, striped bass, spotted trout, out!"

Help Conserve North Carolina's Striped Bass, Red Drum and Spotted Sea Trout Fisheries

Send a message to your state representative today in support of the Coastal Game Fish Bill
Posted on May 04, 2011

Click Below to Send a Message to Your State Representative:

Commercial fisherman gather in Burgaw to protest game-fish bill

Posted on May 03, 2011

BURGAW, NC (WWAY) -- Commercial fishermen gathered in Burgaw today to protest a bill that would keep them from catching certain types of fish.

NPR finds hundreds of pounds of dead striped bass caught in illegal net

Posted on May 02, 2011

ABOARD THE M/V SANDUSKY —— The Chesapeake Bay's bounty was turned into a macabre tableau Monday morning as an illegal net at least 600 yards long and filled with decaying striped bass and other fish was partially pulled from the waters off Tilghman Island.

Pender commissioners reconsider game fish opposition

Posted on May 01, 2011

Despite being united last month in opposition to a proposed state House bill that seeks to give “game fish” status to three species, the Pender County commissioners have agreed to take another look at the issue during Monday's meeting.

Pender County Commission meets on HB 353

Posted on April 29, 2011

Pender County commissioners on April 4 voted unanimously to pass a resolution opposing House Bill 353, which would grant gamefish status to several saltwater fish species.

Bill would ban sale of red drum, striped bass, speckled sea trout in N.C.

Posted on April 22, 2011

The fight over three species of popular fish is heating up along the coast and in the state capital, but it remains uncertain whether the General Assembly will take action on the “game fish” issue this year.

Game fish status possible for fish

Posted on April 21, 2011

Consider the following facts: 1) Red drum, spotted seatrout  (speckled trout) and striped bass (rockfish) are three of the most popular saltwater species for recreational anglers in North Carolina. 2) All three of those fish have experienced declines in recent decades due to over-fishing, with trout currently under the most stress. 3) North Carolina’s state government is experiencing a financial crisis with plans for cuts in vital services and personnel being announced almost daily.

Pender to vote again on opposition to fishing bill

Posted on April 20, 2011

BURGAW - The commissioners have agreed, some reluctantly, to revisit a proclamation they passed earlier this month that opposes a NC House bill that would prevent commercial fisherman from catching certain types of fish.

CCA: Economics make the case for North Carolina gamefish bill

Posted on April 19, 2011

North Carolina has the opportunity to increase the economic impact of fishery management to the entire state with a single bill - H.B. 353, a bill to make striped bass, red drum and speckled trout gamefish.

EDITORIAL: Game-fish bill would have little impact on legal commercial fishing, study shows

Posted on April 19, 2011

As the confirmation process of House Bill 353 heads into its middle stages, both sides are trying to influence public and legislative opinion.

Economics make the case for North Carolina gamefish bill

Recreational sector generates six times the jobs, 12 times the sales of commercial industry
Posted on April 19, 2011

North Carolina has the opportunity to increase the economic impact of fishery management to the entire state with a single bill - H.B. 353, a bill to make striped bass, red drum and speckled trout gamefish. According to a study released this week by Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina, the economic impacts of recreational angling for those three species dwarf those of the commercial sector and make a compelling case for legislative measures that enhance recreational fisheries.

Economics Make the Case for North Carolina Gamefish Bill

Posted on April 19, 2011

North Carolina has the opportunity to increase the economic impact of fishery management to the entire state with a single bill - H.B. 353, a bill to make striped bass, red drum and speckled trout gamefish.

Game fish status causing a stir among recreational, commercial anglers

Posted on April 12, 2011

The question of our Legislature’s passing a new law that would make three of North Carolina’s more popular saltwater fishes “game fish” is raising some hackles across the sportfishing community as well as with the commercial fishing interest. In some ways it’s like the battle going on in Congress between the Republicans and the Democrats. Both sides have their faults and good points.

Did you know?

Posted on April 07, 2011

While H.B. 353 makes a compelling case for greater economic benefits to North Carolina through game fish status, currently commercial fishermen pay no state sales tax on any item they use while fishing, and another bill currently in play seeks to have commercial fishing boats avoid paying property taxes altogether:

Proposed bill has commercial fishermen seeing red

Posted on April 05, 2011

PENDER COUNTY,NC (WECT)- A proposed "game fish status" bill has many local commercial fishermen upset and recreational fishermen excited for better tourism opportunities.

What Can North Carolina Expect from Passage of the Game Fish Bill? PLENTY!

Posted on March 30, 2011

Click below for letters from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on the impact gamefish status has made in those states.

Gamefish proposal seen as jobs bill by House sponsor

Posted on March 29, 2011

The scheduled public hearing for the North Carolina House of Representatives bill that would designate red drum, speckled trout and striped bass as gamefish in North Carolina coastal waters was postponed.

Battle brews over game fish proposal

Posted on March 24, 2011

The N.C. House is considering a bill that would give game fish status to spotted sea trout, red drum and striped bass in North Carolina, effectively making the fish off limits to commercial fishermen.

Let 'em eat cake, says CCA

Posted on March 24, 2011

Dare County Board of Commissioners voted on Monday to adopt a resolution opposing a bill now in the General Assembly that, if passed and signed into law, will give striped bass - aka rockfish, Red Drum and spotted seatrout gamefish status and thus will make it illegal for commercial fishermen to land and sell the three species.

Throw back gamefish bill, commissioners say

Posted on March 21, 2011

State legislation to classify striped bass, red drum and speckled trout as game fish was denounced Monday by Dare County commissioners, who said it would be another blow to the commercial industry and take the popular fish off consumers’ dinner tables.

'Game fish' proposal draws fierce opposition

Posted on March 18, 2011

A proposal being considered by the General Assembly pits fishermen who fish for sport against those who fish for a living.

At the center of the fracas are three types of fish – red drum, spotted sea trout and striped bass.


Posted on February 22, 2011

For the text of the legislation and the latest update on legislative action, please visit the page dedicated to H.B. 353 at the North Carolina General Assembly web site.

Marine Fisheries Commission sanctions striped bass slaughter

Anglers set to seek relief in General Assembly
Posted on February 14, 2011

In an appalling disregard for the indiscriminate killing of striped bass by the commercial trawl net fishermen, the North Carolina Marine fisheries Commission (NCMFC) voted to continue these wasteful practices.

CCA North Carolina Seeks End to Trawling

Striped bass kills highlight need to end destructive fishing practices
Posted on February 10, 2011

In response to a rash of massive striped bass kills along the coast, CCA North Carolina will request the NC Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) to eliminate trawling of any kind as a permissible fishing gear for striped bass. 

Different Regulations, Same Result off North Carolina

Third massive bass kill photographed off Oregon Inlet
Posted on February 07, 2011

In a mistake that was entirely predictable, the state’s Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) has allowed the use of large trawl nets among large schools of striped bass. And, for the third time in less than three weeks, a massive striped bass kill has occurred. The latest example of "regulatory dead discards" was photographed from a helicopter off Oregon Inlet this week and was again evidenced by a long trail of dead striped bass in the vicinity of commercial trawlers. 

Striped Bass Latest Target of Destructive Fishing Practices in North Carolina

Posted on January 19, 2011

January 15th marked the opening for commercial harvest of striped bass in N.C.  Following this opening, hundreds, if not thousands, of dead striped bass, red drum, and other fish were seen and photographed floating in NC waters.  These dead fished were caught by commercial trawl boats and dumped over the side.  This type of fishery requires “culling” or selecting the largest caught fish and discarding the rest, dead or alive.

What's Good for the Goose...

Posted on July 15, 2009

Industrial harvest of wildlife resources is a concept so foreign to Americans that a large percentage of the public would probably assume the practice no longer goes on anywhere in this country. 

VIDEO: The Southern Sportsman with Franc White

A 1993 clip of a WRAL show called "The Southern Sportsman" featuring Franc White.
Posted on May 15, 2007

The coastal gamefish bill is the catalyst for insuring that our fisheries will be properly managed and intact for future generations.