National Fisherman

Thomas A. Nies, a fishery analyst and chairman of a key group of fisheries experts that provides technical advice to managers about the Northeast groundfish fisheries, has been named executive director of the New England Fishery Management Council. He replaces Paul J. Howard who is retiring on March 1 after 16 years in the position.

The council's 18 voting members selected Nies on Monday. Announcing the news at the start of the public session of its Portsmouth, N.H. meeting on Tuesday, council chairman Rip Cunningham said, "I think the council was lucky to have a strong slate of candidates for this position. We know that Tom will do a great job supporting the council's work and bring ideas to help improve the process."

Born in Highland, Ind., Nies graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1976, with a bachelor of science degree in mathematics. He obtained an MBA in leadership from Franklin Pierce University.

During his 21-year Coast Guard career, he focused on at-sea law enforcement. Nies logged over 10 years of at-sea duty, and was eventually appointed Commanding Officer of the Boston-based USCG cutter Spencer.

Nies' land-based Coast Guard assignments included a stint at the fisheries law enforcement branch at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. He later served as the Admiral's representative for the First District Law Enforcement Division at New England council meetings.

He retired from the Coast Guard and joined the council staff in 1997. He initially worked on the herring fishery management plan, made major contributions to the development of a standard bycatch methodology for Northeast fisheries, and since 2000 has worked on the groundfish fishery management plan.

Nies and his wife, Denise, live in Portsmouth, N.H., and are the parents of two grown
daughters, Kate and Becky.

Inside the Industry

NMFS recently released a draft action plan for fish discard and release mortality science, creating a list of actions that they hope can better inform fisheries.

We know that fishermen have to deal with bycatch by discarding or releasing unwanted catch overboard, but there is a data gap regarding how those fish survive.


A new study has identified a set of features common to all ocean ecosystems that provide a visual diagnosis of the health of the underwater environment coastal communities rely on.

Together, the features detail cumulative effects of threats -- such as overfishing, pollution, and invasive species,  allowing responders to act faster to increase ocean resiliency and sustainability.

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