The New Year will begin with a decision that could impact the livelihood of area commercial fishermen.

The five advisory committees to the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission will meet jointly on Jan. 17 in New Bern to receive public comment on a petition for rulemaking that would, if adopted, impact shrimp trawl fishing in most North Carolina waters.

The North Carolina Wildlife Federation submitted the petition on Nov. 2 and the commission has 120 days from that date to grant or deny the request that calls for stricter regulations for shrimp trawling and the shrimp season as a means to better protect habitat for juvenile finfish.

The petition asks the commission to designate all coastal fishing waters not already designated as nursery areas as special secondary nursery areas, including the ocean out to three miles. It also calls for establishing clear criteria for the opening of shrimp season and defining the type of gear and how and when gear may be used in special secondary nursery areas (SSNAs) during shrimp season.

The petition is being opposed by the North Carolina Fisheries Association, which says it would significantly hurt the livelihood of commercial fisherman, as well as consumers who say imposing strict rules on shrimp trawling will impact the local economy and the ability to get fresh, local shrimp.