Susan West, a well-known advocate for North Carolina fishing communities and a National Fisherman contributor, passed away Nov. 10 at age 73.

A Maryland native and graduate of Towson State University, West moved to Hatteras Island, N.C., in the 1970s and married Rob West, a commercial fisherman. In the early 1990s Susan West organized a women’s auxiliary group with the North Carolina Fisheries Association, bringing it into public discussions of fisheries management and public policy.

She participated in a collaborative effort that led to the largest overhaul of fisheries management in state history with the 1997 Fisheries Reform Act.

West was a North Carolina Press Association award winner who wrote for National Fisherman and many other publications. She was co-author of the book Fish House Opera published by Mystic Seaport Press, and conducted oral history recordings with fishermen along the Outer Banks.

She also helped train and mentor oral historians on Hatteras Island and Ocracoke so that locals could document their own community’s stories. West recently helped organize “Fish Camp,” a leadership program for young people interested in commercial fishing.

West is survived by her husband Rob West, mother Betty Jane Butler of Manteo, brothers Billy Butler of Easton, Maryland and Tommy Butler of Raleigh, three nieces Kate, Annie Jane, and Madeline, and her beloved dogs Lydia and Hank. She was preceded in death by her father Thomas Butler.

According to an obituary by Twiford Funeral Homes, an informal celebration of West’s life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation.




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