Interviewee: Melvin Shepard

Role: NC Fisheries Moratorium Steering Committee member

Date of Interview: May 24, 2016

Collection: 1997 North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act

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

Abstract: Fishing equipment supplier Melvin Shepard served on NC Fisheries Moratorium Steering Committee He was interviewed about the development and passage of the Fisheries Reform Act, and about the successes and shortcomings of the act as a framework for managing coastal fisheries resources.

Transcript: I was President of North Carolina Coastal Federation for twenty years. I worked all that time in trying to head off things that did bad to either the water or the fishery because it doesn't exist when there's not proper environment. And I spent twelve years with the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission doing exactly that, trying to write the rules for development and for use of waters. And all this has been just, like, my life!

I believe, even today, that the Fisheries Reform Act was brought about by objection to 'all these guys catching all our fish that we want to catch recreationally.' At the very outset, there was an effort to remove all inside fishing with nets and trawling. I did have a positive experience because the balance on the committee was so well that things that were--like getting rid of inside fishing--something that was really not good, could be voted right down.

And one thing I argued then and argue still now is, why in the hell would you worry about the people that affect the resource the least?! Because here's what's wrong now: enforcement is the biggest problem right now.

We have got to support fisheries enforcement. That's got to happen! Otherwise, no rule is worth two cents.