U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recently announced the 2018 Regional Fishery Management Council appointments: Louis Zimm of California to the Pacific Fishery Management Council; Andy Mezirow of Alaska to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council; Adam Nowalsky of New Jersey and Anthony D. Dilernia of New York to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council; Art Sapp of Florida and Spud Woodward of Georgia to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, and Jonathan Dugas of Louisiana and Dale Diaz of Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.
“These Regional Fishery Management Council appointments made by Secretary Ross are a step toward more equitable representation for the recreational fishing community on these important advisory bodies,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “The sportfishing industry appreciates Secretary Ross’ willingness to tackle the challenges we are facing with federal marine fisheries management, and the Councils play a huge role in that effort. While we still have a ways to go, these appointments continue to show that we’re heading in the right direction.”
Secretary Ross’ leadership has focused on making sure America’s public resources remain public and that healthy natural resources are available for future generations. His appointments announced last week continued to advance that vision in most regions, explained Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy.
“With approximately 70 percent of recreational boats used for fishing, we’re eager to see the Councils focus on advancing fisheries management to protect one of our country’s most treasured pastimes and economic drivers,” said Nicole Vasilaros, senior vice president of government and legal affairs for the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “We appreciate Secretary Ross’ continued recognition that the $39 billion recreational boating industry is a critical component of the U.S. economy and we look forward to working with the Councils, Secretary, and Administration to advance our shared priorities.”
Zimm has been a prominent member of the Southern California charter boat fleet for many years. This important region and sector would not otherwise be represented on the Council. Capt. Zimm is well-versed with the Pacific Council, serving for several years as an appointed member of the important Groundfish Advisory Subpanel. In that role, he has served with distinction, working constructively with all stakeholders and interest groups. Capt. Zimm’s extensive experience with the Council, longstanding participation in Southern California fisheries, and broad knowledge of California’s marine resources makes him an ideal member of the State’s delegation.
Mezirow, who was selected for a reappointment, has consistently weighed in strongly in support of fishing communities, conservation, reduction of wasteful fishing practices, improved data collection, and has worked hard to build consensus among all stakeholders through diligent outreach. An ideal candidate for serving on the Council, he has participated in both recreational and commercial fisheries for decades and has the respect of both communities. Mezirow has the reputation of a Council member who puts the health of fisheries resources first.
Nowalsky, who was selected for a reappointment, is a licensed charter fishing captain and has been very active in both local and regional fisheries management issues. In addition to his time on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Nowalsky serves as New Jersey’s legislative proxy to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, is acting chairman of the New Jersey Chapter of the Recreational Fishing Alliance and serves on multiple citizen advisory committees to the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council.
DiLernia, who was selected for a reappointment, has more than 30 years’ experience with the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) and marine fisheries matters. He is well respected and extremely knowledgeable on a broad array of fisheries issues. He has ably represented the interests of recreational fishermen and demonstrated a keen understanding of the complexities associated with managing commercial species over his tenure as a New York member to the MAFMC. During his impressive service on MAFMC, DiLernia has chaired and served on all working MAFMC species committees, and has served as MAFMC Vice-Chair. While currently serving as a Special Assistant to the President of Kingsborough Community College for Marine issues, DiLernia is the former Director of the Office of Marine Technology at Kingsborough. He also served from 2005-2009 as the Chair of NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee.
Sapp has operated as a true commercial harvester for more than 13 years and as a charter operator for more than eight years. He is also a practiced tournament participant and lifelong recreational fisherman. This breadth of experience, combined with his commitment to sustainable fisheries and his strong ties to the south Florida fishing community make him an ideal representative on the Council.
Woodward recently retired from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) after 34 years of service. He held many positions within Georgia DNR, including serving as director of the Coastal Resources Division from 2009 to 2017. During his tenure with Georgia DNR, he was actively involved in management of marine fisheries, both commercial and recreational, at the state, regional, and national level. While Chief of Marine Fisheries for Georgia DNR, he represented the State of Georgia for three years as a member of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. Woodward also served as Georgia’s administrative commissioner on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission for 16 years and currently serves as Georgia’s governor’s appointee commissioner.
Dugas is an active and well-respected leader in the Louisiana recreational fishing community. He has 30 years of experience as a recreational fisherman for both inshore and offshore Gulf of Mexico species. He has a strong understanding of the fisheries management process, having served as a member of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Ad Hoc Red Snapper Private Angler Advisory Panel, and as a state Board Member for Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) Louisiana.
Diaz, who was selected for a reappointment, has more than 25 years of experience in fisheries management, marine law enforcement, and additional experience in the banking and auditing industry. Throughout his first term on the Gulf Council, Diaz demonstrated a fair and thoughtful approach to the marine fisheries management challenges.