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OVERVIEW OF THE FISHERIES REFORM ACT OF 1997
On August 14, 1997, Governor James B. Hunt, Jr., signed the Fisheries Reform Act into law, bringing to a close a three-year process of intense meetings, discussions and debates over the future of fisheries management in North Carolina. This far-reaching reform package was put together by a coalition of legislators, commercial and recreational fishermen, scientists, fisheries managers and conservationists, in order to ensure healthy stocks, the recovery of depleted stocks and the wise use of our fisheries resources.
The new law focuses on five areas of reform: licensing, the Marine Fisheries Commission, Fishery Management Plans, Coastal Habitat Protection Plans and law enforcement. Additionally, it requires several studies be conducted and reviewed by the North Carolina General Assembly for future consideration.
The new licensing system becomes effective July 1, 1999. The existing moratorium on commercial fishing licenses continues until that time. Under the new system, only fishermen holding an Endorsement-to-Sell License will be eligible to purchase a new commercial fishing license.
The only change the Fisheries Reform Act makes in the current licensing system is the placement of the Vessel Endorsement-to-Sell under the license moratorium. All existing licenses can be renewed until the new system becomes effective on July 1, 1999.
Standard Commercial Fishing License - Effective July 1, 1999
This license is for commercial fishermen who harvest fish, crabs, shrimp and shellfish and will cost $200 annually for residents and $800 annually for nonresidents, unless a reciprocal state agreement exists. Only fishermen who hold a valid Endorsement-to-Sell on July 1, 1999, will be eligible for this new license.
A Vessel Endorsement Fee will be required for fishermen who use boats to harvest seafood. The fee schedule will continue to be based on boat length.
This license can be transferred. A fisherman may transfer this license to any member of his immediate family, or to someone who buys his boat after he retires. Similarly, a surviving family member can transfer a deceased fisherman’s license to a vessel buyer. The Marine Fisheries Commission will be able to establish other transfer categories for this license.
This license and/or the Vessel Endorsement can be assigned to an eligible person by notifying the Division of Marine Fisheries.