Jerry Schill

Jerry Schill Image
Location of Interview
Collection Name

1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act


The Fisheries Reform Act is the most significant fisheries legislation in NC history. 

In 1994, the North Carolina General Assembly approved a moratorium on the sale of new commercial fishing licenses and established the 19-member Fisheries Moratorium Steering Committee to oversee a 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 gear, habitat protection, agency organization, and law enforcement.  The committee issued a draft report in the late summer of 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 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act: An Oral History Perspective was made possible by the North Carolina Sea Grant Community Collaborative Research Grant Program.

Date of Interview

Mary Williford


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. He played a significant role in the North Carolina Fisheries Association (N.C.F.A.), a 501(c)(6) organization, and has been actively involved in fisheries issues, including lobbying in the North Carolina General Assembly. He has also been involved in discussions and debates on the Fisheries Reform Act, the management of the southern flounder species, and the efficacy of Fisheries Management Plans.

Scope and Content Note
This interview with Jerry Schill, conducted by Susan West on June 24, 2016, provides an in-depth look into Schill's life and his involvement in North Carolina's fisheries. The interview begins with Schill's background, including his upbringing in Pennsylvania, his time in the Air Force, and his move to North Carolina. The interview then delves into Schill's involvement in the N.C.F.A. and his role in defining what a commercial fisherman is. It also discusses the push to professionalize the commercial fishing industry and the challenges faced by the industry, including a large amount of regulations and cultural changes related to technology. Schill also discusses the Fisheries Reform Act, the Moratorium Steering Committee meetings, and the individuals who influenced these discussions, such as B.J. Copeland, Bob Lucas, and Jule Wheatly. The interview also covers Schill's views on the management of the southern flounder species, the efficacy of Fisheries Management Plans, and the makeup of the nine-member Marine Fisheries Commission. The interview concludes with Schill's hopes for more direct petitioning and legislative involvement from commercial fishing families.

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