Commerce Department Announces Regional Fishery Management Council Appointees

Washington, D.C. – Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced yesterday the 2022 Regional Fishery Management Council (RFMC) appointments. The recreational fishing and boating community commends Secretary Raimondo for selecting a slate of highly-qualified RFMC appointees who have demonstrated their willingness to fairly consider all elements involved in today’s complex fishery management decisions.

The recreation sector is particularly appreciative of the following appointments: Richard Bellavance of Rhode Island to the New England Council; Scott Lenox of Maryland and Ken Neill of Virginia to the Mid-Atlantic Council; Gary Borland of South Carolina to the South Atlantic Council; Michael McDermott of Mississippi, Troy Williamson of Texas, and Thomas Frazer of Florida to the Gulf of Mexico Council; Peter Hassemer of Idaho and Marc Gorelnik of California to the Pacific Council, and Nicole Kimball of Alaska to the North Pacific Council.

“We are happy to see Secretary Raimondo’s thoughtful approach to the 2022 round of council appointments where she had many knowledgeable candidates from which to choose,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “We hope with these appointments, the Commerce Department and NOAA Fisheries are seeking a new path forward in the way America’s federal fisheries are managed. Conservation and opportunity for the public to access healthy marine fisheries should be top priority in all regions.”

“The work of the regional fishery management councils continues to evolve in both complexity and scope,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “We appreciate the appointment of leaders from the recreational fishing community known for working collaboratively to improve federal fisheries management and recreational fishing access.”

“Our regional fishery management councils are critical for the proper management of our nation’s federal marine fisheries,” said Jason Schratwieser, president of the International Game Fish Association. “Achieving balanced representation from the recreational sector will ensure that recreational anglers will have a voice in developing fisheries policies that benefit both recreational anglers and marine resources.”

“For too long, recreation has been woefully underrepresented on regional fishery management councils – the main venues for saltwater fisheries management decision-making in U.S. waters,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “Today, thanks to Secretary Raimondo and her team, the recreational boating and angling community can celebrate the appointments to these vital governing bodies, which provide our community with additional seats at the table and will help ensure the health of our fisheries for generations to come.”

“BTT is appreciative of Secretary Raimondo’s 2022 federal regional fishery management council appointments,” said Jim McDuffie, president & CEO of Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. “Effective representation on the councils helps ensure good management decisions, which are critical for healthy marine fisheries and ecosystems.”

“Members of the stakeholder-driven regional fishery management councils play a vital role in managing our nation’s fisheries resources,” said Chris Horton, senior director of fisheries policy for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “We applaud the Secretary of Commerce for this year’s slate of well qualified appointees, and we congratulate the new members along with those who were reappointed. We look forward to working with them to ensure we have healthy and abundant marine fisheries, as well as providing access for America’s anglers to those fisheries.”

Captain Bellavance is a lifelong Rhode Island resident and the owner/operator of a charter fishing business in Point Judith, where he has more than 30 years as an active participant and advocate for recreational fishing. For more than a decade, he has represented the recreational for-hire fishing industry on state, regional and federal panels, committees, and commissions. He continues to work to develop electronic reporting tools that can improve recreational catch estimates. He also strongly supports improvements to the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP), which, in turn, leads to better recreational fishery management. During his tenure on the New England Council, Capt. Bellavance has provided important guidance not only for the New England council, but also as council liaison to the Mid-Atlantic Council and is actively engaged as a stakeholder in offshore wind energy development projects.

Lenox’s first term on the Mid-Atlantic Council was marked by leadership on issues important to recreational anglers. Specifically, he served on the summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, bluefish and tilefish committees as they worked through fishery management and data challenges. He is also very active in Maryland as the owner of Fish in OC and host of Ocean City’s fishing television show, Hooked on OC. Through his leadership role on Maryland’s Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission Tidal and Coastal Fisheries Committee, Lenox successfully worked on legislation that creates a task force to develop actions to improve recreational data and licensing systems in Maryland’s tidal waters. He has worked in the fishing industry and fished the waters in and around Ocean City for over 25 years providing extensive experience and knowledge that will continue to serve the Mid-Atlantic Council well.

Dr. Neill is a lifelong Virginia resident and a passionately dedicated recreational angler. He is an international representative of the International Game Fish Association and serves as chair of the North America Regional Council Conservation Committee. Additionally, Dr. Neill served as a member of the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel for the National Marine Fisheries Service and is a member of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Advisory Panel making him very knowledgeable and experienced with both inshore and offshore fisheries. In Virginia, he served two terms on the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and one term on the Potomac River Fisheries Commission where he received service awards from both Commissions for his contributions. For fun, he operates a social media channel called Healthy Grin Sport Fishing where he chronicles both his fishing adventures and ongoing fishery management issues to keep the industry engaged and informed in the Council process.

Borland has more than 40 years of experience in the marine fishing industry where he currently serves as director of sales southeast region for Pure Fishing, Inc. With a career spent in the fishing tackle industry and 21 years as a charter boat owner/operator, Borland has his finger on the pulse of the recreational fishing community and will bring a unique point of view to the South Atlantic Council.

McDermott is an avid angler who has extensive experience competing in fishing tournaments and working on charter boats and sportfishing boats. McDermott knows the history of the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery well, as he has participated in the fishery since the 1990s. Today, he practices law specializing in real estate transactions and owns Pelican Point Marina housing more than 150 boats in Biloxi, Miss. McDermott will bring a fresh perspective to the challenges facing federal fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico.

Williamson has extensive experience in the fisheries management arena including his first term on the Gulf Council, serving on several Gulf Council advisory panels and the Executive Committee of Harte Research Institute. Through the years, he has demonstrated his concern and commitment to sound fisheries management through his service on the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission and as vice chair of the Coastal Resources Advisory Committee for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Dr. Frazer is Dean of the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida and a fair, balanced and valuable member of the Gulf of Mexico Council. Dr. Frazer is highly knowledgeable about fisheries science and recently served as chair of the Council for an unprecedented 3 consecutive years by vote of his peers.

Hassemer has demonstrated a thoughtful and fair approach to fisheries management since he first began serving on the Pacific Council in 2015 as Idaho’s designee. He recently retired after 26 years at Idaho Department of Fish and Game, where he worked in the research and management arenas and served on many Columbia River basin and west coast technical and management bodies.

Gorelnik is extremely knowledgeable and well-respected in the fisheries management community, as evidenced by his election as chair of the Pacific Council. In addition to his role on the Council, he serves as director of Coastside Fishing Club and is active with Golden Gate Salmon Association, Coastal Conservation Association-California and American Sportfishing Association.

Kimball has demonstrated a fair and reasonable approach to management decisions during her time on the North Pacific Council. She has dedicated her career to fisheries management. She worked as a fisheries analyst for the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, federal fisheries coordinator for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and now with the Pacific Seafood Processors Association.

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