What is Save Our Pogies?
The SAVE OUR POGIES effort was begun as a result of growing concern to protect the availability of this food source for the game fish that populate our coastal area of North Carolina. Commercial netting businesses returned to our waters off Brunswick County this past summer and in a period of less than 3 days, they were able to virtually wipe out the pogy schools from Southport to the South Carolina state line. The effect of this action was to rob the predator fish and birds that depend upon the pogy as their primary food source. When the food source is gone, obviously the predador fish leave, thus depriving the multimillion-dollar sport fishery that seeks a variety of game fish that feed on the pogies.
Of additional concern is the growing threat coming from the Chesapeake Bay pogy fishery. Approximately 75% of the pogies caught commercially are caught in the Chesapeake Bay area, primarily by Omega Proteins, a multimillion dollar corporation. The result of the intense fishery that is occurring in the Chesapeake Bay is causing damage to the Striped Bass Recovery Plan. This striper fishery is very "politically connected" and it is likely restrictions will be placed on the amount of pogies Omega Proteins can take from the bay. If this occurs it is most likely Omega will move south to our waters to fill the void that they will loose from their bay fishery. The effect of this multi-boat fleet fishing our waters will be devastating to our pogy population and therefore to our sport fishery.
And thus, out of the above referenced concerns, the Ocean Isle Fishing Center has introduced a plan to pass legislation to protect the pogies that are in our state waters. This effort formally began last fall wherein we approached the Town of Ocean Isle Beach and requested the Town pass a resolution requesting our elected State Representative, Bonner Stiller, to introduce a bill that would ban commercial pogy netting off our county's beaches. Through the leadership of Mayor Debbie Smith, the Town unanimously passed the resolution and shortly thereafter all of the other Brunswick County beaches did the same thus presenting a unified front to Representative Stiller.
Upon presenting this action to Representative Stiller, he wholeheartedly agreed to take the role of the bill sponsor, and from this point forward, we have begun a campaign to try to inform the fishing community from throughout the state of our efforts.