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 a project made possible by the North Carolina Sea Grant Community Collaborative Research Grant Program. In 2016, a three-part podcast series was recorded to examine the state of NC Fisheries prior to and after the implementation of the Fisheries Reform Act. The first part of the series provides history prior to the act’s passage. Part two explore the path from moratorium to passage. The third part of the series highlights the shortcomings and successes of the reform act.

The interviews, podcasts, along with a discussion guide can be found at “Raising the Story: The 1997 Fisheries Reform Act.”