Interviewee: Jerry Schill

Role: NC Fisheries Association executive director

Date of Interview: June 24, 2016

Collection: 1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act

Click on the link below to play the audio clip from the interviewee.

Abstract: Jerry Schill advocated for policy supported by the NC Fisheries Association, a commercial fishing organization, during development of the Fisheries Reform Act. He was interviewed about the development and passage of the act, and about the successes and shortcomings of the act as a framework for managing coastal fisheries resources.

Transcript: The Moratorium Steering Committee wasn't formed to address species or anything like that. It addressed things like the Marine Fisheries Commission, just for an example. My Lord, there were seventeen members of the Marine Fisheries Commission! So, they had speakers come in from various states to talk about how their fisheries were regulated and so they came up with reducing the number of Marine Fisheries Commission members to what we have today, and the process of adopting Fisheries Management Plans. We didn't really have that process prior to that.

We weren't real pleased with all the provisions that were in the Fisheries Reform Act, but it was a compromise document.

I keep going back to the Moratorium Steering Committee because the debate was all-encompassing.. There was very little that wasn't covered under the Moratorium Steering Committee. I'll never forget the time, the first time I heard the term 'messers' when they were talking about the recreational commercial gear license that came about because of 'messers'! They're not commercial fishermen, they're recreational fishermen, like to get out and mess around with some gill nets or some crab pots, and they were called 'messers' and they started using that term! I mean, it wasn't derogatory, it was actually very educational to hear. And that's a category a lot of people are in. They don't like to hook and line fish, for whatever reason. They get a mess of fish. They get a mess of fish. It wasn't so much the decision. You had to understand the discussions. If you listened to the dialogue and what led to the recreational commercial gear license, you'd be hard-pressed not to understand it and be in favor of it, because you've listened to that history.