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Office of Policy

Phone Number: 

Joshua Gange
Marine Habitat Resource Specialist

Jessica Kondel
Senior Policy Advisor

Heidi Lovett
Policy Analyst 

Jennifer Lukens
Director, Office of Policy

Heather Sagar
Senior Policy Advisor

Kristina Trotta
Policy Analyst


Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee

 Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee

Next 2017 MAFAC Meetings

August 9 ♦ Teleconference 2:00-5:00 pm (EDT)

November 28-30  ♦  Silver Spring, MD

Next Columbia Basin Partnership (CBP) Task Force Meeting  

September 26-27, 2017 ♦  TBD

NEWS:   Secretary of Commerce Appoints Five New Committee Members to NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee

(July 14, 2017) Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has appointed five new advisors to NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee, bringing the group’s membership to the full complement of 21. The Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee, or MAFAC, advises the Secretary of Commerce and NOAA on all living marine resource matters that are the responsibility of the Department of Commerce. These five individuals were chosen from a pool of highly qualified applicants who submitted nomination packages during an open, publicly announced process earlier this year. A nomination process is announced when vacancies occur.

NOAA Fisheries greatly appreciates the contributions of Phil Dyskow, Micah McCarty, Julie Morris, and Henry Sesepasara whose terms ended in April 2017, and Michele Longo Eder, whose term ended last year.  All were active participants and leaders on MAFAC.

The five new members are:

Sebastian Belle, Hallowell, Maine:  Mr. Belle is the Executive Director of the Maine Aquaculture Association and a national leader with vast expertise in marine aquaculture, processing, marketing, farm management, and regulations.  He has been instrumental in the expansion of marine aquaculture while addressing environmental and community concerns and bringing positive socio-economic benefits to rural coastal communities. Mr. Belle developed Codes of Practice and Cooperative Bay Management Agreements to coordinate producer activities, establish standards, and minimize risk of disease and environmental impacts.  Mr. Belle has extensive experience presenting aquaculture issues and topics to lay people, scientists, fishermen, and politicians.  Prior to his aquaculture work, he served as a state regulator and worked as a commercial fisherman.

Roger Berkowitz, Boston, Massachusetts:  Mr. Berkowitz is the President and CEO of Legal Sea Foods, LLC.  He has served in various management positions at the company for over 20 years. What began as a family-owned fish market in 1950, has been expanded by Mr. Berkowitz to 33 restaurants in 7 states.  He is a strong proponent of sustainably managed and sourced seafood from wild and farmed sources, and he manages their massive scale of seafood procurement, processing, and marketing from domestic and international suppliers and sources.  Mr. Berkowitz was an early pioneer in developing seafood traceability technology and Legal Sea Food tests fish and shellfish for purity in a state-of-the-art laboratory.  Mr. Berkowitz is widely respected both within and outside his business world and participates as an industry expert in many conferences and events.

M. “Rip” Cunningham, Jr., Dover, Massachusetts: Mr. Cunningham is the former Publisher, Owner, and Editor-in-Chief of Salt Water Sportsman, the largest sport fishing magazine in the world. He continues to work as their Conservation Editor.  Mr. Cunningham has been active in both state and federal fisheries management for 28 years and supports transparent, equitable, and sustainable marine resource management.  He served on the New England Fishery Management Council from 2004 -2013, including as chair and vice chair for seven years. Mr. Cunningham is active with national recreational fishing associations, has served and led many boards, and has received numerous conservation awards for his work including a lifetime achievement award from The Billfish Foundation and induction into The Fishing Hall of Fame.

Rasela Feliciano, Pago Pago, American Samoa: Ms. Feliciano is Vice President of Feli Fisheries, Inc. and an owner of U.S. tuna longline vessels fishing in the western Pacific Ocean.  She is a member of the Tautai-O-Samoa Longline & Fishing Association and has extensive experience managing U.S. flag fishing operations and the myriad business, social, and environmental issues integral to industrial scale fishing under U.S. flag.  At Feli Fisheries Inc., Ms. Feliciano manages overall fishing operations and company compliance with marine conservation and sustainability efforts.  Her work has also focused on actions that maintain a safe work environment and she developed vessel and crew safety policies and procedures that led to an 80% reduction in work related injuries. In addition to her fisheries experience, Ms. Feliciano is trained as a Registered Nurse, and worked at the LBJ Medical Center.

Robert Gill, Crystal River, Florida: Mr. Gill has been the co-owner of Shrimp Landing, a diversified, dockside wholesale and retail seafood business since 1986, and has been involved in southeastern regional fisheries management for many years.  From 2006 -2012, Mr. Gill served as a member and chair of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, and he continues to serve on the Council’s Science and Statistical Committee. He serves as co-Chair of the Steering Committee of Marine Resource Education Program (MREP) Southeast, a program created by fishermen for fishermen to better understand fishery management processes and the science that supports it.  Mr. Gill serves on other commercial fisheries organizations, and began his career as an Engineering Officer with the U.S. Navy and in the shipbuilding industry.

MAFAC provides advice and recommendations on NOAA and Department initiatives and programs.  In recent years, MAFAC has provide advice and input to the NOAA Aquaculture Strategic Plan for 2016-2020; NOAA Fisheries Cooperative Research and Cooperative Management White Paper; implementation of the Recreational Fisheries Policy; improving species recovery; Habitat Enterprise Strategic Plan for 2016-2020; NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy; and instituted a new task force, the Columbia Basin Partnership to provide appropriate expertise on long term salmon and steelhead recovery. 

For more information please contact: Executive Director, MAFAC.

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The Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC) was established under a federal charter by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) on February 17, 1971, to advise the Secretary of Commerce on all living marine resource matters that are the responsibility of the Department of Commerce. MAFAC members draw on their expertise and other appropriate sources, such as the National Marine Fisheries Service, to assist in: setting national living marine resources policies; developing and implementing Departmental initiatives and programs; evaluating and recommending needed changes during reauthorization processes for the Magnuson-Stevens, the Endangered Species, and the Marine Mammal Protection Acts; and assessing other areas of primary interest to the Secretary and relevant to the mission and goals of the NOAA Fisheries Service.  The members represent a wide spectrum of fisheries, habitat, and protected resource interests,as well as environmental, academic, State, Tribal, consumer, and other related national interests.

MAFAC advice is derived from public deliberations of the Committee and is typically conveyed in meeting summaries, written findings and recommendations, and formal reports transmitted to NMFS, NOAA and the Department.  Issues for Committee deliberation are derived from matters that the Secretary, or his designee, brings to the Committee, and those topics affecting living marine resource stewardship that are of growing concern identified by the Committee. The Committee functions solely as an advisory body (complying fully with the Federal Advisory Committee Act) and is available to the Secretary on an ongoing basis as a source of expertise to be consulted in the development of fisheries policy, and generally meets twice a year.

NEWS Archive


October 26, 2016 - MAFAC Launches Survey to Assess Climate Information Needs of Stakeholders


July 22, 2016 - Nominations sought for the new Columbia Basin Partnership Task Force of the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee.  Applications accepted through September 6, 2016.


April 21, 2016 - Secretary of Commerce Appoints New Committee Member to NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee


November 12, 2015 - Secretary of Commerce Appoints Four New Committee Members to NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee

June 4, 2015 - Nominations sought for open positions on the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee.  Nominations accepted through July 20, 2015. 


January 26, 2015 - Announcing Appointments to MAFAC's NEW Climate and Marine Resources Task Force and Aquaculture Task Force 


October 20, 2014 - Secretary of Commerce Appoints Four New Committee Members to NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee


October 16, 2014 - Nominations sought for two new Task Forces of the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee. Applications accepted through November 17, 2014.


May 2014 - Nominations sought for open positions on the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee. Nominations accepted through July 7, 2014.


May 2014 - NOAA Announces 17 Appointments to the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee's Recreational Fisheries Working Group


March 2014 - MAFAC Seafood Certification Recommendations -Open for Public Comment


April 2013- New MAFAC Member from Hawaii Appointed

February 2013 - NOAA Announces 9 New Appointments to the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee's Recreational Fisheries Working Group     

January 2013 - MAFAC Seeking to Fill One Vacancy

August 2012 - Secretary of Commerce Appoints Two New Committee Members to NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee; Reappoints Four Members

March 2012 - Secretary of Commerce Appoints 7 New Advisors to NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee




MAFAC Meeting Materials & Summaries

August 2017

March 2017
Boston, Massachusetts

December 2016

November 2016
Silver Spring, Maryland

June 2016
Teleconference & in Silver Spring, Maryland

April 2016
Portland, Oregon

February 2016
Teleconference & in Silver Spring, Maryland

November 2015
Teleconference & in Silver Spring, Maryland

October 2015
Silver Spring, Maryland

April 2015
San Diego, California

October 2014
Silver Spring, Maryland

September 2014
Silver Spring, Maryland

June 2014
Silver Spring, Maryland

December 2013
Silver Spring, Maryland

May 2013
Washington, DC

January 2013

October 2012
Silver Spring, Maryland

August 2012

May 2012
Seattle, Washington

February 2012

October 2011
Washington, DC

June 2011

May 2011
Key West, Florida

March 2011

October 2010
Annapolis, Maryland

August 2010

June 2010
Juneau, Alaska

February 2010
Honolulu, Hawaii

November 2009
Silver Spring, Maryland

August 2009

May 2009
Monterey, California

November 2008 
New Orleans, Louisiana

July 2008 
New York, New York

December 2007
St. Pete Beach, Florida

June 2007
Washington, D.C.

July 2006
Seattle, Washington

February 2006
Dania Beach, Florida

June 2005
Washington, DC

January 2005
Honolulu, Hawaii

August 2004
Juneau, Alaska

December 2003
New York, New York

May 2003
San Diego, California

January 2003
Washington, D.C.

May 2002
Portland, Maine

November 2001
U.S. Virgin Islands

April 2001
Orange Beach, Alabama

November 2000
East Elmhurst, New York

April 2000
Charleston, South Carolina

October 1999
Washington, D.C

March 1999
La Jolla, California