A National Fisherman Highliner is a career commercial fisherman known for giving back to the industry, locally, nationally, or globally. It is no easy task, and as such, it deserves recognition. This annual tradition of hailing leaders of the commercial fishing industry began in 1975 as a closed process, but the NF team opened nominations to this audience this year. However, that’s just one of the changes to better connect generations of fishermen.

2023 Highliners will be featured in an upcoming National Fisherman magazine print issue, which honors individuals from almost all U.S. coasts. National Fisherman will also host a special award ceremony at the Pacific Marine Expo that will be designed to honor and showcase the hard work and dedication that these Highliners have done for the commercial fishing industry.

Stay tuned for complete profiles of each Highliner as well as the format and details for the Highliner Award Ceremony. Until then, here’s a preview of each winner…

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.

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.

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.

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, Pebble Mine, market swings, and regulatory and policy issues among fisheries.

Since age 10, Jimmy Hull has had a passion for being on the water. Jimmy has 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.

Want to learn more about the 2023 Highliners? Connect with them at Pacific Marine Expo, or ensure you’re signed up for our newsletter to see their full profiles!

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Carli is a Content Specialist for National Fisherman. She comes from a fourth-generation fishing family off the coast of Maine. Her background consists of growing her own business within the marine community. She resides on one of the islands off the coast of Maine while also supporting the lobster community she grew up in.

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