Fisheries Reform Act

The 1997 Fisheries Reform Act: An Oral History Perspective

In 1994, the NC General Assembly implemented a moratorium on the sale of new commercial fishing licenses and established the NC Fisheries Moratorium Steering Committee to study the coastal fisheries management process and to recommend changes to improve the system. The NC Fisheries Reform Act, signed by Governor James B. Hunt on August 14, 1997, was based on the final report of the Moratorium Steering Committee.

The year 2017 marks the twentieth anniversary of the 1997 NC Fisheries Reform Act, far-reaching legislation that changed how fisheries are managed in North Carolina. Developed over the course of more than three years during a period of heightened concern over the future of the state’s marine resources, the Fisheries Reform Act set the framework for mandated fisheries management and coastal habitat protection plans, restructuring of commercial fishing licenses, and development of a recreational fishing license.

Oral history interviews are capturing the accounts of key individuals who have played instrumental roles in the implementation of the Fisheries Reform Act (FRA) or in its initial conception and development. The interviews will provide a record of the successes and shortcomings of the FRA in addressing the environmental, social, and economic challenges of the past two decades and the prospective value of the FRA in addressing emerging issues.

In the initial phase of the project, audio excerpts from interviews will be featured on the Coastal Voices website. The complete interview recordings and transcripts will be available later this year. Podcasts featuring interview excerpts will be created early next year. All of these materials will be available online at no-charge for use by individuals and organizations.

The project is funded by the North Carolina Sea Grant Community Collaborative Research Grant Program.

Susan West

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