I have fished lobster in Maine and Massachusetts since I was 16. As with many fishermen, I also have been deeply involved in fisheries management. I have served on the New England Fisheries Management Council and too many state and federal advisory committees to mention. I am currently the CEO of the Maine Lobsterman's Association, a member of the Atlantic States Marine Fish Commission, and serve on the editorial board of National Fisherman.
I tell you this because you need to know that I am a strong advocate for commercial fishing. So is Tony Knowles.
Though separated by thousands of miles, Maine and Alaska share many things in common, including the importance of commercial fishing to our coastal economy. Thanks to Tony Knowles, I learned this firsthand as a member of the Pew Oceans Commission. Tony Knowles invited me and other members of the commission to visit some of Alaska's fishing communities. He shared with us the importance of fishing and coastal resources to Alaskans and their livelihoods. At every meeting of the commission over three years Tony Knowles educated us about Alaska fisheries.
All commercial fishermen and all Alaskan's should thank Tony for serving on the Pew Oceans Commission. I'm sure it was not an easy decision for him. But he felt that commercial fishing was too important to the long-term economic health of Alaska not to have a voice on the commission. It involved a real commitment, knowing the time it would take and the grief we would take from armchair critics. But he did it and did it graciously. Tony ensured that we recognized the importance of fishing for employment and our nation's economic health.
I don't believe anyone could have done a better job showing off the state of Alaska and its people. On most issues, Tony explained why the rest of the country should use Alaska as an example of how to manage fisheries. It was a pleasure and an honor to work with Tony Knowles and I hope I have occasion to do it again.
Patten D. White