Written by Jen Finn
February 26, 2013
Tough act to follow
Our annual yearbook issue is an opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments and the biggest hurdles we face as an industry. Last year it seemed there was a glimmer of hope on the horizon for many fisheries. Salmon were coming back on the West Coast; scallops were scoring well for Northeast fishermen; Florida fishermen were making healthy catches if few others in the Gulf of Mexico were.
And here we are a year later, but little has changed if it hasn't gotten worse.
At a time when our industry needs more than anything to band together to keep working waterfronts thriving and maintain fishermen's right to fish and accessibility to the stocks, it is heartbreaking to lose a national leader like Dr. Dayton Lee Alverson.
National Fisherman has been honoring industry Highliners since 1975. Alverson received our first Special Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1977. That was 36 years ago, yet until his death on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, at the age of 88, he continued to dedicate his life to family and faith, and his work to the integration of fishing and science.
Alverson was born Oct. 7, 1924, in San Diego. His young career began in the Navy, for which he served as a radio operator behind enemy lines in China in 1944. In 1947, Alverson moved to Seattle to study fisheries at the University of Washington. He became a marine biologist and an affiliate professor with the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs.
In the mid-1970s, as a result of his own published research intended to highlight vast potential seafood harvests for U.S. fleets, Alverson became an outspoken proponent of extending U.S. fishing boundaries to 200 miles. He worried that his work would serve as the honey to draw in Asian and Soviet factory fleets.
At the time, he was the director of what was then the Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Center, and worked closely with Sens. Warren Magnuson (D-Wash.) and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) to pass the landmark 1976 Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
In 1980, Alverson co-founded the Seattle-based Natural Resources Consultants, a firm that specializes in fisheries assessments and policy. He published more than 150 papers and produced a beautifully written autobiography, "Race to The Sea," which I reviewed for this magazine's April '09 issue.
I remember Lee from our West Coast Highliner celebrations. I'm happy to say that he made it to my first as editor of the magazine in November 2011. Though I have no way of knowing now what those dinners truly meant to him, it is reassuring for me to know that one of the creators of our modern fishery management system was there to see the torch passed.
This industry needs strong leadership to carry forward. Let us never forget what it took to get here and what our future has to offer. We will have to fight for it, whatever it is.
— Jessica Hathaway
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