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Graves named to leading fisheries advisory panel

John GravesProfessor John Graves of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science has been named to the Department of Commerce’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC), the nation’s top advisory body for management of commercial and recreational fisheries in U.S. waters.MAFAC’s 21 members recommend priorities and needed changes in national fisheries programs, including the ongoing reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The members represent a wide spectrum of fisheries interests, with individuals from environmental, academic, state, tribal, commercial, and consumer backgrounds.

Graves was selected for his expert knowledge of fisheries genetics, as well as his extensive experience in fisheries management and policy-making. Graves has served as Chair of the U.S. delegation to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) for the past 14 years, and also as a member of the National Marine Fisheries Service’s advisory panels for Billfish and Highly Migratory Species.

VIMS Dean and Director John Wells says that Graves’ selection is “further evidence of the important role that our faculty play in translating their research into knowledge that can be used to help promote sustainable use of natural resources. This is a real honor, both for John and for VIMS.”

Graves’ research program at VIMS uses molecular techniques to determine the population structure of pelagic fish stocks, identify the origin of seafood to ensure compliance with fishery management plans, and infer evolutionary relationships among species. His most recent research focuses on efforts to reduce the mortality of billfish released from recreational and commercial fishing gear, and to devise means of reducing incidental by-catch in the pelagic long-line fishery.

Graves was one of seven new MAFAC members appointed by Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez on October 3rd. The other members are Patricia Doerr of the American Sportfishing Association; Edwin Ebisui, Jr., a vessel operator and private lawyer; Erika Feller of The Nature Conservancy; Martin Fisher, commercial fisherman; George Nardi, co-Founder and Technical Officer, GreatBay Aquaculture; and David Wallace, owner of Wallace & Associates, a professional organization specializing in fisheries business operations.

MAFAC is chaired by Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Member terms are three years, and members may serve two consecutive terms.