NC Catch Board Member Hemilright Pays It Forward With Fish


Several commercial fishermen from the Outer Banks have been paying it forward this winter with donations of fish to a local food pantry. Buddy Coppersmith (F/V Emily Shay), Jimmy Taylor (F/V Windy Gale), and Dewey Hemilright (F/V Tar Baby), have been commercial fishermen for most of their lives. Recently, they’ve been working under a cooperative research grant collecting data that will improve future stock assessments for blueline tilefish.

Hemilright, an avid community outreach volunteer with the Coastal Federation’s office in Manteo is well-known for leading education lessons for students and adults and was recognized for his outstanding contributions to the Coastal Federation’s northeast education program with a Pelican Award in 2015.

While participating in the cooperative research project to gather fisheries- independent data on blueline tilefish and snowy grouper, the fishermen were sent out to fish and collect samples. Since the fishermen were receiving payment through the cooperative research grant, they could not sell their catch. Nor did they want to see it go to waste, and so sought out other options for it.

For life-long Dare County resident, Hemilright, giving back to the community was an easy decision. With the Coastal Federation’s help, he reached out into the community and found the perfect place to donate the “research” tilefish—the Beach Food Pantry in Kitty Hawk. Pantry representatives, Kathy McCullough-Testa and Theresa Armendarez, were thrilled with the donation, “It has been so wonderful to have fish to give out to those in need here in Dare County,” stated the pair.

The fish were processed at Etheridge Seafood Company and O’Neal’s Sea Harvest, with both local businesses providing crucial support to process, package, freeze and store the fish collected. After several deliveries from fish house to food pantry, over 750 pounds of blueline tilefish fillets were donated to the Beach Food Pantry. This donation marks the first time that locally caught fish has ever been stocked in the Pantry’s freezer.

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