Baker nominates locals for regional fish council

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Jun. 17—The New England Fishery Management Council will lose four of its longest-serving members this summer because of term limits and two of the vacant seats could be filled by candidates from Cape Ann.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has nominated Jackie Odell, the executive director of the Gloucester-based Northeast Seafood Coalition and a Gloucester resident, as his second choice to replace retiring council Chairman John Quinn in the obligatory Massachusetts seat.

"Ms. Odell's support of the council process established by the (Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act) is rooted in a belief that utilizing data, sound science and comprehensive analyses are essential to the management decision-making process," Baker wrote in his nominating letter to Paul Doremus, NOAA Fisheries acting assistant administrator for fisheries. "Encouraging advancements in science and evolving scientific methodologies is vital to ensure successful management measures."

Baker listed recreational fishing stakeholder Mike Pierdinock, of Plymouth, as his preferred candidate for the Massachusetts seat.

The governor also nominated Odell as his preferred candidate for the at-large seat that will be vacated in August by Vincent Balzano, of Saco, Maine.

Odell could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

And Baker's third choice for the at-large seat is Gloucester Shellfish Constable Peter Seminara, a 44-year-old Rockport resident with 21 years of experience in the region's commercial fisheries and more than 30 years experience in the recreational and charter fisheries.

"As a former fisherman, I applied because I want to give something back to the fisheries in which I worked," Seminara said Wednesday. "I'd work to help ensure the sustainability of the commercial, recreational and charter fisheries of New England."

Baker, in his nominating letter, said Seminara "seeks to maintain sustainable fisheries to protect the marine ecosystem as well as continuing to provide employment for thousands of commercial and charter fishermen in New England through fisheries management, utilizing science, education, outreach and experience."

On their way out

Quinn, Balzano, Terry Alexander, of Maine, and Matthew McKenzie, of Connecticut, will be leaving the council when their terms expire on Aug. 10 and will participate June 22 to 24 in their final council meeting as voting members. Each is in his third term and will have served the maximum nine years when their terms expire. Cumulatively, they served on the council for 36 years.

Quinn, of Dartmouth, has served as chairman of the council for the past five years, leading it though debates and rulemaking on issues such as at-sea monitoring, the North Atlantic right whales, contentious groundfish stock assessments and allocations, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alexander, a fisherman of more than 40 years from Harpswell, Maine, was chairman of the council's groundfish committee and represented the council on the federal Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team.

Balzano is a third-generation fisherman and longtime proponent of cooperative fisheries research projects, and MacKenzie, an associate professor of history at the University of Connecticut, has written two books.

"Clearing the Coastline" examined the human consequences from "declining inshore fish stocks around Cape Cod in the 19th century" and "Breaking the Banks explored "the intersection of popular cultural representation and industrial development and management in New England fisheries between 1866 and 1966," according to the council's membership biographies.

Janice Plante, NEFMC spokeswoman, said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will have final approval on the appointment of the new members. The announcement is expected by the end of June.

"It will be some time after our council meeting," Plante said.

The New England Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional councils established via federal legislation in 1976.

The council has 18 voting members that include NOAA Fisheries regional administrator for the Gloucester-based Greater Atlantic Region Fisheries Office; five principal marine fishery managers (or a designee) from each of New England's five coastal states (Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island); 12 members nominated by the governors of those states to serve three-year terms; and four non-voting members representing the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of State and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.

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