Monday, March 15, 2010

Brunswick's commercial fishermen favor cooperative marina

Brunswick County’s commercial fishermen have spoken, and the majority favor a proposed cooperative marina near Oak Island that would give them a much-needed place to dock their boats.

But for that to become a reality, the fishermen will have to work together.

Commissioner Scott Phillips plans to discuss helping the fishermen acquire land for the marina at the board’s meeting Monday night.

But the county likely won’t have a hand in the logistics of the project, which would include docks, a fueling station and more, Phillips said.

“That’s going to be left up to them,” he added, referring to the fishermen.

The commercial fishermen met March 6 in the commissioners chambers with Phillips and the county Marine Fisheries Advisory Board to gauge interest in building a cooperative marina.

Of the 46 full-time commercial fishermen who voted during the meeting, 44 were in favor of the cooperative marina.

The fishermen are interested in building the co-op on land owned by the state and leased by the Army Corps of Engineers just west of the new Oak Island bridge. A basin already exists there, where dredge spoil was pumped out to nourish area beaches.

Phillips said the commercial fishermen are willing to pay into the cooperative so that it would be self-sustaining.

Since the meeting, Marine Fisheries Advisory Board Chairman Bill Hickman said he has received several phone calls from area fishermen.

“It’s been overwhelming support for it,” he said.

Phillips said after the meeting he received a call from a fisherman in Pender County who is losing his dock space for his 68-foot shrimp trawler and is interested in the cooperative marina.

“It’s gotten some publicity and some interest from other folks,” Phillips said.

Hickman has said the commercial marina could be open to more than just Brunswick County fishermen.

Phillips plans to tell the other commissioners what happened at the meeting and let the board decide where to go from here. The next step would be to contact the state to see if obtaining the property would be an option.

The property is also adjacent to land owned by The Coastal Companies, and the project would need an easement for access.

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Ken Keegan
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