ACFHP Seeking Nominations for the 2023 Melissa Laser Fish Habitat Conservation Award

The Melissa Laser Fish Habitat Conservation Award is bestowed by the Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership upon individuals deemed to further the conservation, protection, restoration, and enhancement of habitat for native Atlantic coastal, estuarine-dependent, and diadromous fishes in a unique or extraordinary manner.

The award was established in memory of Dr. Melissa Laser who passed away unexpectedly on April 27, 2010. Melissa was a biologist with the Maine Department of Marine Resources where she worked tirelessly to protect, improve, and restore aquatic ecosystems in Maine and along the entire Atlantic Coast.

As an astute strategic thinker and leader, Melissa edited and coordinated the Strategic and Operational Plan for the Restoration of Diadromous and Resident Fishes to the Penobscot River. She coordinated fish passage projects, managed and oversaw the biological field staff for the Maine Western Region, and was the Bureau of Sea Run Fisheries and Habitat Program lead for habitat restoration studies and projects. She was also an effective champion for Atlantic salmon, directing and coordinating Endangered Species Act-related actions pertaining to the species.

Melissa brought her smiling dedication and enthusiasm to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Habitat Committee and Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership’s Steering Committee, catalyzed by the Commission in 2006. Her contributions to these committees and to her home state were tremendous. She is deeply missed.

View the instructions on how to submit a 2023 nomination, or visit:

Read about the 2021 and 2022 award recipients, Wenley Ferguson of Save the Bay – Narragansett Bay, and Tom Twyford of West Palm Beach Fishing Club, respectively, here: Andrew Goode and Wenley Ferguson Receive the 2020 and 2021 Melissa Laser Fish Habitat Conservation Awards and Tom Twyford Receives the 2022 Melissa Laser Fish Habitat Conservation Award. We plan to present the 2023 award at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Annual Meeting this fall.

Please send nominations to Simen Kaalstad, ACFHP Director (, by June 19, 2023.

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