Twenty newly named members of the American Fisheries Advisory Committee will steer federal funding for fisheries research and development projects.

With members drawn from six U.S. regions plus national at-large seats, the panel counts accomplished fishermen, researchers and marketing experts among its skill set – names like Rebecca Skinner of Alaska Whitefish Trawlers, Louisiana oyster expert John Supan, Lori French from Faces of California Fishing, and former National Fisherman editor Jessica Hathaway, now with marine resources consultants Ocean Strategies.

The committee was established by the American Fisheries Advisory Committee Act in May 2022 to make recommendations for Saltonstall-Kennedy priorities and grant award funding.

The AFAC Act requires the committee to have three representatives from each of six regions of the U.S. sea coast and Great Lakes, as well as four at-large members. These must include one representative each from the retail and marketing sector, commercial fisheries, recreational fisheries, and NOAA Fisheries.

Members from each of the six regions represent seafood sectors including processors, recreational and commercial fishermen, seafood farmers, fisheries scientists, and regional fishery management council members.

The committee’s first meeting will be held in Seattle, Washington, the week of Dec. 12, to evaluate and make recommendations for the annual Saltonstall-Kennedy grant competition.

Saltonstall-Kennedy funds provide grants or cooperative agreements for fisheries research and development projects addressing aspects of U.S. fisheries including harvesting, processing, marketing, and associated business infrastructure. These grants and cooperative agreements are made on a competitive basis—subject to availability of funding—to assist in:

  • Executing projects that optimize the economic benefits of building and maintaining sustainable fisheries and practices.
  • Dealing with the impacts of conservation and management measures.
  • Increasing other opportunities to support working waterfronts.

The panel’s members listed by region and sector represented are:

Region 1 — Alaska, Hawaii, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa

  • Phillip Fernandez, Hawaii – science/management
  • Rebecca Skinner, Alaska – fishing/farming
  • Julianne Curry, Alaska – harvester/processor

Region 2 — Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut

  • Mark Alexander, Connecticut – science/management
  • Beth Casoni, Massachusetts – harvester/processor
  • Jessica Hathaway, Maine – fishing/farming

Region 3 — Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

  • Michael Stephens, Florida – harvester/processor
  • John Supan, Louisiana – fishing/farming
  • Marcos Hanke, Puerto Rico – science/management 

Region 4 — California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho

  • Chuck Erickson, Oregon – fishing/farming
  • Lori French, California – harvester/processor
  • Pete Granger, Washington – science/management

Region 5 — New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia

  • Mike Leonard, Virginia – fishing/farming 
  • Charles Phillips, Georgia – harvester/processor
  • Laxman Kanduri, New Jersey – science/management

Region 6 — Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania

  • Ronald Rogness, Wisconsin – fishing/farming
  • Mark Palicki, Illinois – harvester/processor 
  • Beau Braymer, Michigan – science management 

At Large

  • Matthew Alward, Alaska – commercial fishing supply chain
  • Derek Orner, NOAA Fisheries representative
  • Confirmation of 2 additional at-large members is pending



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