1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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 Description Interviewer Date of Interview Location of Interview Affiliation Collection
Daniel Whittle

Daniel Whittle, an attorney with the Environmental Defense Fund, speaks in this interview about his experiences working for the North Carolina state government during the era of the Fisheries Reform Act. As an adviser to the Assistant Secretary of Natural Resources, he gathered stakeholder input during the mid-1990's.

Mary Williford Carrboro, NC Carolina Coastal Voices 1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act
Frank Tursi

Former journalist Frank Tursi describes his upbringing in Brooklyn, New York and how he moved to North Carolina. This oral history focuses on Frank's recollections of fisheries debates surrounding the Fisheries Reform Act and the factors that drove it.

Barbara Garrity-Blake Newport, NC Carolina Coastal Voices 1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act
Melvin Shepard

Melvin Shepard is a commercial fisherman from Sneads Ferry, NC. In this interview, he discusses his roles as a commercial fisherman, past president of the NC Coastal Federation, member of the NC Ocean Resources Taskforce, NC Coastal Resources Commission and Moratorium Steering Committee.

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

Executive Director of the North Carolina Fisheries Association, Jerry Schill, discusses the history of the NCFA, his role as director and the development of the 1997 Fisheries Reform Act. He offers insights on the key political figures who were active in the process and describes the tensions surrounding the bill.

Susan West New Bern, NC Carolina Coastal Voices 1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act
Sandy Semans Ross

Former Vice President of Communications for the North Carolina Fisheries Association, Sandy Semans Ross, discusses in this interview her work as a fisheries advocate during the mid-1990s. Her interview includes perspectives on the Fisheries Reform Act and opinions on portrayals of the commercial fishing industry.

Susan West Stumpy Point, NC Carolina Coastal Voices 1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act
Willy Phillips

This is an interview with seafood dealer Willy Phillips, owner of Full Circle Crab Company in Columbia, NC. Phillips describes his business and efforts to fight for clean water protections in North Carolina's estuaries. He also offers insight into the actions of the Moratorium Steering Committee and the process of crafting the Fisheries Reform Act of 1997.

Barbara Garrity-Blake Columbia, NC Carolina Coastal Voices 1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act
Beverly Perdue

North Carolina's 73rd state governor, Beverly Perdue, who served from 2009-2013 discusses her political career and the Fisheries Reform Act. Perdue describes campaigning and the challenges of establishing bridges between the commercial and recreational fishing communities.

Barbara Garrity-Blake, Mary Williford New Bern, NC Carolina Coastal Voices 1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act
Pam Davis Morris

In this interview, Pam Davis Morris, a commercial fisher living on Harkers Island, shares her recollections of how she entered the industry and how commercial fishing has changed during her career. Some of the topics included in the interview are "clam kicking," the Fisheries Reform Act of 1997 and the Moratorium Steering Committee.

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

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 1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act
Jess Hawkins

Jess Hawkins began working for the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries in 1978 and has enjoyed a long career as a fisheries biologist and Marine Fisheries Commission Liaison. He also teaches at Duke University's Beaufort Marine Lab. In this interview, he describes the ideas behind the Fisheries Reform Act of 1997 and his relationships with the other major figures who took part in that legislation.
 

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