(NEWSLETTER - Fall 2019)
Wow, what an experience this has been over the past 39 years. I started as a contract employee with a desk in the storage room. We didn’t use computers; staff wrote out their documents, gave them to one of our two secretaries who would type them into a word processor. Thankfully, NMFS provided an Apple II computer through the State/Federal Cooperative Statistics Program, which I quickly grabbed.
It has been an honor to have worked with all the fishermen, Council members, State partners, Council staffs, NMFS/NOAA GC staffs, NGOs, fishing organizations, other partners like ACCSP, and members of the public. I know it is risky to mention specific names because you always forget someone, but there are some people who really stand out over the years:
- Bruce Austin – for teaching me to work and think across different fields of science and backgrounds in graduate school. And for taking the economist job at the SAFMC, which gave me a foot in the door.
- Allen Branch – for taking me under his wing and teaching me the importance of the Advisory Panels and the importance of working with our sister Councils, especially the Gulf Council. Allen was one of our original Council members and served for 18 years, a record that will never be broken.
- David Gould – our 2nd Executive Director, for all his support and his demonstrated trust in his staff.
- Ed Joseph – for teaching me the importance of regional management and honesty.
- Jerry Sansom/Bob Jones – these two giants were Spiny Lobster Committee Chairs when I started, Jerry on the SAFMC and Bob on the GMFMC; and I learned a lot about how to work with Council members from different areas with different views from these two gentlemen.
- Gail Workman – for the hours and hours of discussions about the “special” relationship between the Councils and NMFS.
- Lee Thompkins – for sharing his knowledge of the mackerel fishery in the early years. Lee was always a gentleman, and he left us way too soon.
- Larry Bartron – for talking to me with respect about why the Councils were putting him out of the drift gillnet business while his young son was weaving in and out of his legs. This experience has stuck with me throughout my entire career and helped me always see things from the fishermen’s perspective.
- The Nielsen Family – to Richard for bringing his father Dick back to the Council process after being put out of the fish trap business. Their work, and the work of the other golden crab fishermen, was instrumental in the Council’s development of a cooperative management plan for the golden crab fishery. They welcomed me into their homes, and David did not throw me overboard on the fishing trip to show me how the gear worked. Hearing Richard say, “Go ahead Dad” during a Golden Crab Advisory Panel meeting still sends chills down my spine. Both of them left us way too soon.
- Craig O’Connor – for teaching me how to build a good administrative record and how to work within a very complex legal environment.
- Susan Shipman – for her unlimited energy, attention to detail, and historical knowledge. Susan understood the need for regional management and was able to keep a working linkage with the ASMFC and our sister Councils.
- Wayne Lee – preparing for a Snapper Grouper Committee meeting with Wayne was like my thesis defense each and every time. Wayne was very thorough and wanted to understand every aspect of each topic.
- Ernie Carl – for his unique way of looking at tough issues and his sense of humor. Ernie summed up ecosystem management perfectly—“There is only so much carbon out there, you just have to choose what you want it in.”
- Bill Cole – for being a mentor and sharing a deep care for improving our data. Bill taught me how to work in the world of biopolitics while always protecting habitat and the fish.
- Bob Mahood – our 3rd Executive Director, for the many lessons I learned about working with NMFS and the other Councils, and being an Executive Director.
- Ben Hartig – I first met Ben as a yelling fisherman at a mackerel public hearing. Over the years, Ben got involved in the process and served many years as a Council member and even as Chair. His love and passion for fishing never wavered, and he has been a constant advocate for better data.
- Michelle Duval – for her help during my first year as Executive Director when I told her things looked pretty calm—and then cobia exploded. Michelle has a unique knack for being able to listen to all views from fishermen, NGOs, NMFS, staff, and other Council members while moving the Council’s business forward. She also knew how to keep a meeting on schedule.
- Mike Collins/Kelly Klasnick – my being trained as a scientist did not include any administrative background. First Mike and then Kelly kept me out of trouble and within budget. Without these two gentleman, I would not have been able to do the job of Executive Director.
- Our Staff – thanks to the best! Our Council has always searched out and hired the best individual for each position, and this shows in the quality of work performed by our staff over the years in support of the Council.
- Our Council – for providing the best staff and working environment one could ask for; for encouraging staff to search for solutions and listening to suggestions; for welcoming and listening to all of our constituents; and for dealing with very tough issues in a diplomatic fashion.
A special thanks to my wife, Lisa. Without her love, support, and advice none of this would have been possible; and to my children for all the events I missed while traveling for work.
I will miss many friends I have met and worked with along the way; the process—not so much.
I encourage you to stay tuned as the Council continues to work through many tough issues. Your continued participation is critical to finding a solution that works for everyone, including the resources we manage.
Get Involved! Let your voice be heard!
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