The North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act will be 20 years old this August. It was the result of heated debate from stakeholders on all sides of the issue – and while most describe it as a compromise bill, signed by Governor Jim Hunt in 1997, most also say it was better than nothing. There is new legislation coming through the pipeline in Raleigh that could fundamentally change the way fisheries are regulated, and that has reignited a decades-old battle – that reaches beyond the obvious binary of recreational and commercial fishermen. It’s re-opened questions around what responsible, sustainable fisheries management looks like.
On this edition of CoastLine, our task is not to debate the merits of the current legislative proposals; rather, we’re going to turn the clock back 20 years and talk with some of the key stakeholders who helped to craft that compromise legislation known as the Fisheries Reform Act.
B.J. Copeland is a former Associate Professor of Limnology at North Carolina State University. He has served as Director of the North Carolina Sea Grant College, as a member of the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission and as a member of the Fisheries Moratorium Steering Committee.
Jess Hawkins is a former Marine Biologist with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (1978 - 2006), and he served as a member of and liaison for the Marine Fisheries Commission from 1995-2006.
Dick Brame, Coastal Conservation Association Fisheries Director for the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and South Atlantic Fishery Management Council
Jerry Schill, Director of Government Relations and Past President of the North Carolina Fisheries Association (NCFA)
The 1997 NC Fisheries Reform Act: An Oral History Perspective was made possible by the North Carolina Sea Grant Community Collaborative Research Grant Program:
Related podcasts from the oral history project: www.bitandgrain.com