Mount Pleasant charter captain Mark Brown doesn't deny that he has often butted heads with members of the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (SAFMC), so it might seem a bit odd that this week he received an at-large appointment to that very council. But not really. Brown and the SAFMC both want to see fisheries survive and flourish.
The SAFMC is "responsible for the conservation and management of fish stocks within the federal 200-mile limit of the Atlantic off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and east Florida to Key West."
Brown, who operates the charter boat Teaser 2 out of Shem Creek, said he attended his first council meeting in 1979 when he lived in Florida and has been attending meetings and hearings ever since.
"I've voiced my opinion. Sometimes it's not been as positive as the council would have liked, but I tell them my point of view," Brown said.
"I know a lot of the council members that have been there for years. We actually have an understanding. We agree to disagree."
Brown said he understands that the SAFMC is bound by law and has to evaluate situations presented and come up with decisions in conjunction with the law. And he is excited that he will be part of the council when the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act is reauthorized by Congress.
Brown, who will celebrate officially becoming a member of the SAFMC and his 58th birthday on Aug. 11, said what he brings to the table is the experience of someone who has been on the ocean his entire life from both recreational and commercial perspectives.
"I understand a broad range of fisheries. I owned a longline boat for five years. I've bottom-fished, handline fished for king mackerel, cast net for mullet in Florida," Brown said. "I think one of the things I bring is input on how to establish a regulation that will protect the fishery but not be economically damaging to the fisherman.
"I know over-exploiting a fishery is going to be devastating to everybody. Ninety-nine percent of the people in the business want to see a healthy fishery. We want to have that for generations. I'm right there with (the SAFMC) as far as regulation (to protect the fishery goes), but I also want to make sure it's reasonable."
Brown said what fishermen need to do is attend council meetings with creative solutions "that will help manage our fisheries," not raves and rants.
"If people have some disagreement," Brown said, "I'll be glad to sit down and talk with them about it. Because I've been going to these meetings for years, I can explain to them in great detail what we're up against."