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At the Helm

From the President's desk

Below are updates and forthcoming events that NCWU is currently, and/or planning to be, advocating for.

If you have any questions or suggestions on a certain event, topic, or pressing issue, please email us at

James Alan Ruhle

January 4, 1948  -  September 28, 2023

The North Carolina Watermen United would like to offer the family and friends of Jimmy Ruhle our sincerest condolences. The commercial fishing industry, as well as all sectors on the East Coast, lost a true and loyal advocate. Jimmy’s determination and resiliency will be sorely missed in the effort to ensure our hard-working watermen receive the fair and equitable legislation needed to continue our time-honored tradition of being on the water.


Our hope is his family will gather strength during these difficult times from their faith, family, and friends. 

To paraphrase a quote from Jimmy’s obituary…”That ol’ fisherman has been good to us”.

The public comment deadline on Amendment 15 has been extended to October 2nd! 


The link below will take you to a video produced by Jonathan Matthews of CounterCurrent shot in Wanchese.  This should help formulate a quick comment letter on your part to show your position on NOAA Amendment 15, particularly the potentially crippling effect on the PLL industry.

Information on the amendment is located below

Deadline extended to October 2 for public comment on NOAA Fisheries’ Proposed Amendment 15

September 26, 2023 | Fishing

The deadline to voice concerns and express opposition to Draft Amendment 15 to NOAA Fisheries’ “2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan: Spatial Fisheries Management and Electronic Monitoring Cost Allocation”—a proposed federal fisheries amendment that could adversely affect the commercial fishing industry Dare County—has been extended to Monday, October 2, 2023.

Understanding Draft Amendment 15:

In May 2023, NOAA Fisheries released Amendment 15 to the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan: Spatial FIsheries Management and Electronic Monitoring Cost Allocation, in which Section F, “Electronic Monitoring Program,” Subsection F2 would transfer all costs of the existing Electronic Monitoring Program from NOAA Fisheries to the commercial fishing industry.

Under this proposed amendment, pelagic longline vessel owners would be forced to bear the full financial responsibility for all aspects of the electronic monitoring that is required on their vessels, including equipment, services, sampling and data storage of footage (of which only 10 percent of a set would be viewed). This transfer of costs from NOAA Fisheries to commercial fishermen would impose a devastating financial burden on local fishermen, many of whom are already struggling to sustain their operations due to the ever-increasing number of regulations that are being placed on the industry.

Draft Amendment 15 also establishes a cost of $280 per set, resulting in an estimated additional cost per trip of $1,700 on average—and accounting for approximately 19 percent of a commercial fisherman’s net profits per trip. If Draft Amendment 15 is adopted, this additional financial burden will likely put many local fishermen out of business, which ultimately threatens the overall sustainability of the commercial fishing industry that has served as an essential economic engine for Dare County for centuries.

Dare County Board of Commissioners Passes Resolution Opposing Draft Amendment 15

The Dare County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to pass a resolution opposing Draft Amendment 15 to NOAA Fisheries 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan: Spatial Fisheries Management and Electronic Monitoring Cost Allocation during the board’s meeting that was held at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, September 6, 2023.

During their discussion, the commissioners noted that, since the requirement for cameras to be installed on longline pelagic vessels was implemented in 2015, the number of North Atlantic pelagic longliners has fallen from approximately 135 to less than 80 vessels.

This decline in the number of operating pelagic longline vessels has resulted in an overall cost to NOAA for its electronic monitoring program that is currently significantly lower than before, leading the board to note in the resolution that “it would therefore appear that the purpose and effect of Amendment 15 is purely punitive rather than an economic necessity.”

The Dare County Board of Commissioners strongly opposes Amendment 15, “as this would add an overwhelming and unsustainable financial burden on our already overregulated commercial watermen and seafood industry in Dare County specifically and on the pelagic longline fishing industry of the East Coast of the United States in general.” To view a PDF of the full resolution that was passed by the Dare County Board of Commissioners, click here.

Individuals who are opposed to Draft Amendment 15 are encouraged to express their concerns to NOAA Fisheries by submitting a public comment before the October 2, 2023 deadline.


To submit a public comment to NOAA Fisheries, click here.

President's Message 09/2023

I hope your summer has been safe and productive.  We have been working on an avenue to better our communications with North Carolina Watermen United members and supporters.  With the timely work of Mary Ellon Ballance and Rachel Bibbey, our members can now view all fishery news on our Website ( with user friendly access to all current issues rather than our team sending individual emails & texts as they arise.  Knowing how busy everyone can be this time of year, attention to all these emails can easily be missed. Our hope is to not only improve forwarding all pertinent points of interest but also making it more efficient for each of you.


The Website will feature all scheduled Council and Commission meetings, proposed legislation & regulations, fishery proclamations and general news for the following local, state, and federal agencies and others. Recaps will be posted from the meetings attended by a representative of the NCWU that may affect our watermen.

  • Dare County Waterways Commission

  • Oregon Inlet Task Force

  • North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries

  • North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission

  • North Carolina Fisheries Association

  • Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

  • Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council

  • NOAA – National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

  • South Atlantic Fishery Management Council 


Mary Ellon and Rachel have also added an online new membership page to facilitate potential members joining our organization featuring a new payment method of auto-paying monthly by credit card. We have also streamlined the NCWU Facebook & Instagram accounts with the help of Squall Line Social Media & Online Marketing Solutions. will have an information header for all public events such as the upcoming Hatteras Village Day at the Docks on September 15 & 16 and the OBX Seafood Festival in Nags Head on Saturday October 21.

Our goal is to keep all NCWU members and supporters informed and to continue “PROTECTING YOUR FREEDOM TO FISH”

Woody Joyner

North Carolina Watermen United – President



2nd Quarter / April – June 2023 






  • NCWU Membership Drive in Ocracoke, NC

    • NCWU Board of Directors members Ernie Dosier and Woody Joyner met with the owners/managers of selected businesses in Ocracoke to discuss current issues facing our watermen.  With fishing, both commercial and charter, playing such an important role in the draw of tourism to the island, several businesses joined the NCWU showing their support. 

  • NC Division of Marine Fisheries Public Forum: Observer Trip Scheduling System (OTSS); Hatteras Village, NC

    • The NCWU worked to assist the NCDMF’s Public Forum to secure a venue for the event and spreading the word on Hatters Island to ensure a good turn out by our working watermen. For the DMF to issue permits to commercial fisherman, Federal agencies require a certain number of observer trips per year.  The Public Forum was held to discuss changes in the current system to better meet these requirements through new and more efficient scheduling.

  • NC Legislative House Bill 665:

    • As titled: “An act to amend the statures pertaining to coastal fishing to ease regulatory burdens and enhance access to fisheries for bona fide commercial fishermen”.

    • The NCWU reached out to both our House and Senate representatives to voice our opinion this proposed bill would result in both unnecessary increased monetary fees and decreased number of license available. The bill had not reached the House floor at this Newsletter’s publishing and appears will not do so during the current session.



  • NC Division of Marine Fisheries: Bicentennial Jamboree; Morehead City, NC

    • The Division of Marine Fisheries celebrated their 200th Anniversary of marine fisheries management in North Carolina.  The public event was held on the DMF campus in Morehead City and featured: “Meet the people behind the science”, “Learn how DMF collects your data”, “Watch the Swiftwater Rescue Team” and so much more.

    • The NCWU Board of Directors sends both our thanks and our congratulations. 

  • NOAA Public Forum:  Electronic Reporting Requirements for Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS); Manteo, NC … one of six public scoping meetings held from Belle Chasse, LA to Gloucester, MA.

  • NCWU Board of Directors members, Glen Hopkins and Woody Joyner, attended the meeting in Manteo. The event was well attended and according to the NOAA representatives, the largest meeting so far and the most interactive.  NOAA is sponsoring the hearings to gather responses on proposed changes in the current electronic reporting and how to increase efficiency and accuracy. 

  • Under the advance notice of proposed rulemaking, NOAA Fisheries is considering options to:

  1. Convert existing commercial paper logbooks to electronic logbooks

  2. Expand logbook reporting to permit holders in additional commercial fisheries and certain recreational fisheries (e.g., HMS Charter/Head-boat) via electronic logbooks

  3. Collect additional information through existing electronic reporting mechanisms for dealers and recreational permit holders

  4. Facilitate HMS reporting, through incentives and/or penalties

  5. Provide electronic reporting for HMS Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) Program permit holders.




The NCWU participated in the following fishery meetings representing our membership. We are adamant in our hopes of preventing additional rules that we feel are neither fair nor equitable.  

Issues of concern included: Bay Scallop, Spotted Seatrout, Striped Mullet, Blue Crab, Estuarine Striped Bass, Shrimp, Spanish Mackerel, Dolphin-Wahoo & Southern Flounder


  • Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council: April meeting (webinar)

  • South Atlantic Fishery Management Council: Mackerel/Cobia Advisory Panel (webinar)


  • Atlantic South Fishery Management Council: Spring meeting (webinar)

  • North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission: attended Spring Business meeting in Beaufort, NC 


  • South Atlantic Fishery Management Council: spring meeting (webinar)

Members of our Board of Directors also attended the monthly meetings of the Dare County Waterways Commission and the Oregon Inlet Task Force.

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