NOAA selects members for advisory committee on coastal conservation

NOAA Fisheries had selected 20 members for an advisory panel to recommend to agency leadership on area-based marine conservation and management, and restoration of marine places. 

The committee’s mandate is to advise on enhancing biodiversity, building climate resilience and expanding access to nature and the outdoors for underserved communities. The advisory package is also to include advisories on implementing the America the Beautiful initiative, to conserve and store public lands and waters.   

The appointments include Linda Behnken of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association in Sitka. 

A preliminary report released in May by the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality recommends a decade-long initiative to advance locally led conservation and restoration in public, private and tribal lands and waters to address the disappearance of nature, climate change, and inequitable access to the outdoors. 

The committee is to help NOAA deal with varied area-based management of coastal and marine areas, including areas managed under different authorities and for different purposes, including national marine sanctuaries, national estuarine research reserves. 

Committee selection took into account three diverse expertise: expertise in resource management for coastal marine and Great Lakes areas; commercial and recreational fishing, marine industries, recreation and tourism; and the study of structure, function, human use and management of coastal and ocean ecosystems. 


NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said NOAA is pleased to welcome a committee which includes tribal and Indigenous leaders, and has a wide range of perspectives and expertise from science, policy and advocacy to industry. Special coastal, Great Lakes, and marine areas and communities that rely on them will benefit from their input and advice, he said. 

NOAA chose to assign committee members to staggered non-renewably terms of either two or four years. Members selected for four-year membership included Behnken; Eric Reid, chair of the New England Fisheries Management Council; and Peter Staufer, ocean protection manager for the Surfrider Foundation. Two-year committee members ranged from Peter Auster, senior research scientist and research professor emeritus of the Mystic Aquarium, University of Connecticut; to Mark Hodor, senior legal counsel to Shell USA Inc.; and Heather Hall, intergovernmental ocean policy manager, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.