1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act

  • Collection DOI:
    Principal Investigator:
    Barbara Garrity-Blake, Susan West
  • The Fisheries Reform Act is the most significant fisheries legislation in NC history. 

    In 1994, the NC General Assembly approved a moratorium on the sale of new commercial fishing licenses and established the 19-member Fisheries Moratorium Steering Committee to oversee study of the state's entire coastal fisheries management process and to recommend changes to improve that process.  The Moratorium Steering Committee included legislators, fisheries managers, scientists, commercial fishermen, and recreational fishermen. The committee commissioned six research studies and reviewed a broad range of issues, including fishing licenses, fishing gears, habitat protection, agency organization, and law enforcement.  The committee issued a draft report in late summer 1996, held 19 public meetings across the state, and adopted a final report in October 1996 that formed the basis for the Fisheries Reform Act.   Governor James B. Hunt signed the Act into law on August 14, 1997.

    The 1997 NC Fisheries Reform Act: An Oral History Perspective was made possible by the North Carolina Sea Grant Community Collaborative Research Grant Program.

Interviewee Collection Sort descending Description Interviewer Date of Interview Location of Interview Affiliation
Jerry Schill 1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act

Jerry Schill was born and raised in a small agricultural community in Pennsylvania, where his father served as the town's Postmaster. The family also owned a farm, and Schill learned to milk cows by hand from a young age. After high school, he joined the Air Force, during which time he got married. He has been married for nearly 48 years, has four children, ten grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Schill moved to North Carolina and became involved in the state's fisheries.

Susan West New Bern, NC Carolina Coastal Voices
Melvin Shepard 1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act

Melvin Shepard is a long-time resident of Sneads Ferry, North Carolina, with deep roots in the community. Born in Wilmington, North Carolina, Shepard's family has a rich history in Holly Ridge, where his grandfather served as the Atlantic Coastline Railroad Station Master and his grandmother was the Post Mistress. Shepard and his wife, Tilly, have been married since 1955 and have been involved in the commercial fishing industry for many years. Shepard is a unique individual who has managed to balance his interests in commercial fishing and environmental conservation.

Barbara Garrity-Blake Sneads Ferry, NC Carolina Coastal Voices
Frank Tursi 1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act

Frank Tursi is a Brooklyn, New York native who grew up with a deep appreciation for the coastal environment. His early experiences fishing and exploring the local geography of Brooklyn sparked his interest in coastal issues and the environment. Tursi's family moved to North Carolina due to shifts in the garment industry. He pursued Geology studies at East Carolina University and was involved with The Fountainhead newspaper during his tenure there.

Barbara Garrity-Blake Newport, NC Carolina Coastal Voices
Daniel Whittle 1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act

Dan Whittle was born on October 10, 1962, in Glasgow, Kentucky. He grew up in a small farming town in western Kentucky named Ridgefield. After his parents divorced when he was in third grade, he moved to New England, New Hampshire, where he spent the school year in Manchester and the summers on their farm in Kentucky. Whittle attended Manchester public schools and later decided to go back South for college. He attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Mary Williford Carrboro, NC Carolina Coastal Voices
Richard "Dick" Brame 1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act

Richard "Dick" Brame was born in Brattleboro, Vermont, but grew up in eastern North Carolina. He has a long history of working for not-for-profit organizations, including the Izaak Walton League, the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, the Pennsylvania Wildlife Federation, and the Coastal Conservation Association (C.C.A.). Brame joined the C.C.A. in 1989 and served as its first Executive Director until 1999. He then transitioned to the role of Fisheries Director, representing the C.C.A. at Atlantic States and South Atlantic council meetings.

Scott Baker Wilmington, NC Carolina Coastal Voices
B.J. Copeland 1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act

B.J. Copeland, born on November 20th, 1936, in a country home near Mannsville, has had a significant impact on the fisheries of North Carolina. He has an extensive educational background and has served in the Zoology Department at North Carolina State University. Copeland was initially appointed to the Marine Fisheries Commission in the 1980s under Governor James G. "Jim" Martin's "Egghead Commissions." Throughout his career, he has been involved in numerous public hearings and has worked to foster communication and interaction between different stakeholders in the fisheries sector.

Mary Williford Bear Creek, NC Carolina Coastal Voices
Mac Currin 1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act

Mac Currin, born in 1950 in Henderson, North Carolina, has had a diverse professional background, primarily centered around marine biology and fisheries. After completing his undergraduate studies, he began his career as a school teacher before transitioning to a research role at N.C. State University, where he worked with Dr. John Miller for approximately 16-17 years. During this time, he also earned his Master's degree. Currin's work focused primarily on research related to small marine fish.

Sara Mirabilio Raleigh, NC Carolina Coastal Voices
Jess Hawkins 1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act

Jess Hawkins is a seasoned Marine Biologist who has dedicated his career to the management and conservation of marine fisheries. Born and raised in Bath, North Carolina, Hawkins developed a love for the outdoors, fishing, and hunting from a young age. This passion led him to pursue a career in marine biology. Hawkins began his career as a Fisheries Biologist with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, initially working as a Field Biologist in Little Washington before transitioning to an administrative role in Morehead City.

Barbara Garrity-Blake Morehead City, NC Carolina Coastal Voices
Robert Lucas 1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act

Robert Lucas, former Chairman of the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission led efforts to pass the 1997 Fisheries Reform Act. In this oral history, Lucas discusses his law career and how he became involved in fisheries issues in the mid-1990's. He provides insight into how the law was shaped through public meetings and negotiation with stakeholders.

Mary Williford Selma, NC Carolina Coastal Voices
Pam Davis Morris 1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act

Pam Davis Morris was born in Newport News, Virginia in 1962. Her father was an engineer and her mother was a medical technician. The family moved to Beaufort, North Carolina when she was five years old, and later, Smyrna, North Carolina. Morris began her career in the seafood industry at a young age, working at a fish house and heading shrimp when she was just fifteen. She attended college at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she earned degrees in Art and Art Education.

Barbara Garrity-Blake Harkers Island, NC Carolina Coastal Voices