The Division of Marine Fisheries has a schedule of events lined up to celebrate its 200th anniversary.
The North Carolina General Assembly passed Dec. 30, 1822, the law, An Act to Prevent the Destruction of Oysters, and for Other Purposes, that restricted oyster harvest gear and prohibited the export of North Carolina oysters to other states.
This was the first statewide law governing marine fisheries and was the beginning of state marine fisheries management, officials said.
There were numerous laws passed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, eventually leading to establishing the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, which is currently under the Department of Environmental Quality, and the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission.
The division began celebrating Thursday at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City. Staff were joined by partners from Carteret Community College, N.C. Sea Grant, and the N.C. Maritime Museum, as well as members of the Marine Fisheries Commission.
“Fisheries management has come a long way since 1822, and we are excited to celebrate this milestone,” Division Director Kathy Rawls said. “Throughout the year, we will be sharing some of our history through school programs, social media, and videos of interviews with retired staff about what fisheries management was like in the ‘old days.’”
During the celebration, DEQ Chief Deputy Secretary Tim Watkins read a proclamation designating December 2022 as Marine Fisheries Management and Conservation Month, in celebration of this 200th anniversary, David Bennett, curator of maritime history at the Maritime Museum in Beaufort, shared the history of fisheries management in North Carolina, and staff heard anecdotes from two retired Marine Patrol officers who worked in the 1960s.
The Division of Marine Fisheries will announce in the coming weeks and months a schedule for historical presentations it will host in partnership with the N.C Maritime Museum, showing the development of different aspects of marine fisheries in the state.
The celebration is to wrap up June 10, 2023, with a bicentennial jamboree at the Division of Marine Fisheries Headquarters in Morehead City, with additional tours and demonstrations offered at Carteret Community College, where the public can learn about fisheries management and conservation. There will be food trucks, informational booths, games, demonstrations and tours.