A National Fisherman Highliner represents a seasoned commercial fisherman with a remarkable commitment to supporting the fishing industry, be it on a local, national, or global scale. This achievement is no small feat and warrants due recognition. The tradition of acknowledging leaders within the commercial fishing sector dates back to 1975, when it was a closed process. However, this year, the NF team has opened up nominations to the broader community, marking a significant shift to bridge the generations of fishermen more effectively.

National Fisherman is set to host a special award ceremony on the Main Stage, dedicated to celebrating the tireless efforts and unwavering dedication of these Highliners to the commercial fishing trade. You can catch these outstanding individuals in the spotlight on Wednesday from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Don’t miss the opportunity to raise a glass with a Highliner following the ceremony!

Matt Alward / Alaska

Matt Alward’s fishing career began as a crew member almost three decades ago. His passion for fishing led him to become a skilled captain and owner of Alward Fisheries and Just Knots LLC. Based in Homer, Alaska, Matt holds the position of President of the United Fishermen of Alaska and a member of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation. Through his extensive background in the commercial fishing industry, he has made significant contributions to sustainable fisheries management and the overall growth of the fishing community in Alaska.

Matt has instilled his love for fishing within his family by raising his kids on the back of the boat fishing for salmon, herring, and halibut. He is recognized in his community for actively working to better the local, state, and federal fisheries over the past decade.

Curt Brown / Maine

Curt Brown is a lifelong Mainer, commercial lobsterman, marine biologist for Ready Seafood, and Chairman of the Alliance for Maine’s Marine Economy. When he began fishing at 8 years old, his passion for lobstering sparked his interest in science. After obtaining a master’s degree in marine biology and marine policy from UMaine, Curt has worked tirelessly on policy and sustainability initiatives since 2015 to preserve this way of life for his children and future generations.

While still fishing 500 traps off the coast of Maine, Curt has worked closely with state and federal lawmakers and Ready Seafood customers to tell the story of sustainable Maine lobster. Curt has also been committed to spending his days between science and the fishing industry to push the ever-evolving endeavor of improving the overall sustainability of a resource that supports many Maine families and small businesses. As of late, Curt traveled to Washington, DC, to testify on behalf of Maine’s lobster industry to share the long history of the state’s conservation efforts.

Jimmy Hull / Florida

Since the age of 10, Jimmy Hull has had a passion for being on the water. Jimmy had been exploring the waterways around the Halifax River and Ponce Inlet as a young teenager, and by 20 years old, he became a commercial fisherman and obtained his captain’s license to run his own charter business. He has been committed to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council by attending most meetings. He is a member and chair of the Snapper/ Grouper Advisory Panel, as well as the NOAA Highly Migratory Species Panel.

When Jimmy isn’t fishing, he is focused on his wholesale, retail, and restaurant called Hull’s Seafood, as well as participating in cooperative research projects federally and within Florida. He has made some waves along the South Atlantic coast by being informed and making a positive difference in the fishery management process. He has worked tirelessly to inform better the science of our fisheries stocks that fishermen observe daily.

Michael (MJ) Jackson / Alaska

Michael (MJ) Jackson has been a career commercial fisherman since 1979 and continues to fish Bristol Bay for salmon, groundfish, and crab. He is known for making substantial contributions toward improving Alaska’s salmon fishery. He has been on the board of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association since 2018 and served as the president of the board since 2020. MJ has been an ultra-dedicated force by advocating for Bristol Bay fishermen and helping create a safe and sustainable fishery that will be around for generations to come. He has helped the Bay flourish despite challenges such as COVID-19, Pebble Mine, market swings, and regulatory and policy issues among fisheries.

MJ has spent countless hours volunteering within his community and has never been afraid to stand up for what is right. MJ’s passion for the commercial fishing industry has inspired many, but most notably his two sons, who are boat and permit owners, following in their dad’s footsteps.

Maggie Raymond / Maine

Maggie Raymond was a vital member of the New England fishing community for over 27 years by groundfish fishing. In addition to her experience as a commercial fisherman, she has helped those actively working in the industry navigate many management changes over the years. Maggie has helped bridge the gap between fishermen and scientists through her knowledge of the complex fishing industry. She was the former executive director of the Associated Fisheries of Maine, is a board member of the Maine Fishermen’s Forum, and has over 25 years of participating on the New England Fishery Management Council’s numerous panels.

Maggie has forever been dedicated to both the commercial fishing industry and sustainable fisheries management. She works tirelessly and quietly to advance the priorities of those she represents and is knowledgeable and prepared for every situation where she brings something forward.

To view all the past National Fisherman Highliners:

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