North Carolina Obligatory Seat
P.O. Box 33
Sneads Ferry, NC 28460
Tom Burgess, a commercial fisherman from Sneads Ferry, N.C., was appointed to the South Atlantic Council in an obligatory seat as a North Carolina representative on August 11, 2010. He has previously served on the Council's Snapper Grouper Advisory Panel from 2005-2010.
"I am a proud citizen of a small coastal town, where responsible commercial fishermen land fish and shellfish that are sold as high-value seafood products in retail markets all across the country. Twenty-five years of residency in Sneads Ferry has made me appreciate responsible stewardship of fish stocks and the importance of fishing to coastal areas. My involvement with the South Atlantic Council thus far has enabled me to represent my community and keep them updated on important fishery issues."
To help sustain healthy fisheries and communities, Burgess believes that commercial fishermen must become more involved than merely harvesting seafood. "Important forms of stewardship by commercial fisherman include monitoring stocks, abiding by new and potentially controversial fishery regulations, cooperating in applied research, and participating in making or amending regulations. Management of healthy stocks depends on comprehensive, unbiased, and timely data; commercial fishermen supply an important link in the assessment process by providing accurate fishery-dependent data such as catch and effort information."
For two decades, Burgess has been a part of the black sea bass trap fishery in the South Atlantic. He has provided valuable input towards management decisions in the snapper grouper fishery, including results from his applied research with black sea bass trap mesh sizes and biodegradable escape panels. He has worked as a cooperative fisherman on numerous collaborative projects with NMFS, N.C. Sea Grant Extension, N.C. State University, and UNC Wilmington. His projects have included deepwater reef species, Marine Protected Areas, a fishery-independent sampling design, and black sea bass mesh configurations, among others.