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MAFAC's Aquaculture Task Force

MAFAC has a longstanding history of engagement on aquaculture issues. This Task Force has been created to expand the aquaculture expertise of MAFAC, and to help MAFAC provide advice and input to NOAA Leadership, on the NOAA Aquaculture Program and its future activities.  The Task Force will assist NOAA in fulfilling its central role in developing and implementing policies that enable marine aquaculture and work to ensure that aquaculture complies with existing federal laws and regulations that NOAA enforces under its marine stewardship mission. 

Some example tasks of the new Task Force will include review of: NOAA’s progress on implementing the agency’s 10-Year Plan for Marine Aquaculture (from 2007), priorities to include in strategic planning for the aquaculture program, and tasks to support NOAA’s work with the Regulatory Task Force of the Interagency Working Group on Aquaculture.   The Aquaculture Task Force will report to MAFAC’s Commerce Subcommittee.

The following 11 individuals were appointed on January 15, 2015 to serve on this new Task Force.  They were chosen from a pool of highly qualified candidates who applied to serve:

Megan Davis – Dr. Davis is the Interim Executive Director of Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. She has extensive expertise in aquaculture, marine science, business development, training, and technology development and innovation and has led many team projects in Florida and the Caribbean. For 10 years she was co-Director of a USDA-ARS aquaculture cooperative agreement to develop low cost, energy efficient recirculating aquaculture systems and other technology for marine fish.  Also, she co-founded the world’s first queen conch farm. 

John Forster – Dr. Forster is a consultant with expertise in aquaculture biology, aquaculture business, and marine agronomy. Currently, he is President of Forster Consulting Inc. and has worked extensively with clients such as the Alaska Department of Commerce, BC Salmon Farmers Association, the FAO, and Hubbs-SeaWorld.  He is a board member of the Washington Fish Growers Association, has been active with many industry organizations, and is a former MAFAC member. 

Joe Hendrix – Mr. Hendrix is President and Founder of SeaFish Mariculture, an industry consulting group with expertise in aquaculture business development and management, aquaculture research and biology, and aquaculture policy. He is a former member of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, and was instrumental in developing its Aquaculture Fishery Management Plan, the first plan for aquaculture in Federal waters.  He has also served on advisory committees to the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program and Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

Gary Jensen – Dr. Jensen recently retired as the National Program Leader for Aquaculture at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  His expertise spans aquaculture small business development; innovation, national and international aquaculture practices; and aquaculture permitting and regulation. He served as Chairman of the Federal Interagency Working Group on Aquaculture, is president of the US Aquaculture Society, and a Director with the World Aquaculture Society.

Jeff Lotz – Dr. Lotz is Director of the Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center of the University of Southern Mississippi and has expertise in marine aquaculture, aquaculture stock enhancement, and the ecology and epidemiology of parasites and diseases of marine organisms. Furthermore, he has extensive experience working on government-funded marine aquaculture research in the Gulf of Mexico

George Nardi -- Mr. Nardi is an expert in aquaculture biology, hatchery operations, and the technical management of aquaculture production systems with over 30 years of experience with aquaculture operations in multiple regions across the country. Currently, he is the General Manager of Golden Eagle Sable Fish, Inc., in British Columbia. He recently finished two terms as a MAFAC member, where he served as Chair of the Commerce Committee.

Brian O’Hanlon – Mr. O’Hanlon is an expert in open ocean aquaculture, specifically with the siting, permitting, building, and operations of one of the largest open ocean farms in the world. He is Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Open Blue Sea Farms. In the past he founded and operated Snapperfarm in Puerto Rico, served as a founding board member of the Ocean Stewards Institute, and oversaw grant research projects in collaboration with the Universities of Miami, Puerto Rico, Harbor Branch, and MIT. 

Paul Olin -- Dr. Olin is an Aquaculture Specialist with the University of California Sea Grant Extension Program with expertise in aquaculture sustainable industry development, aquaculture species biology, maturation and larval rearing of penaeid shrimp, and spawning protocols for other species.  He is co-author of California Programmatic Environmental Impact Report for Coastal and Marine Aquaculture and a board member to several regional and international industry shellfish associations.

Neil Sims – Mr. Sims is Co-Founder and CEO of Kampachi Farms, LLC in Hawaii and has expertise in aquaculture business development, aquaculture business consulting, aquaculture technology development, pearl farming, and innovation specifically in open-ocean, offshore mariculture. He was the principle investigator of the Velella Project, the first ever un-anchored fish farm and has served on various industry councils.

Lisa Tucker – Ms. Tucker is an Aquaculture Research Analyst for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and is working to revise and update the Seafood Watch’s criteria for Aquaculture. Her expertise includes marine and aquaculture policy, aquaculture regulation, and international aquaculture practices. She formerly worked for the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association and in coastal management at NOAA. 

Paul Zajicek – Mr. Zajicek has recently become the Development Director of the National Aquaculture Association after serving 28 years with the Division of Aquaculture in the Florida Department of Agriculture.  His expertise is in aquaculture business and market analysis, aquaculture regulation and permitting, and aquaculture biology.  He wrote a popular guide helping aquaculture businesses navigate the state and federal regulatory processes to obtain permits.  He also served on an ad hoc committee with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to assist with the development of the initial aquaculture fishery management plan.

MAFAC member Bob Rheault serves as the liaison between the Commerce Subcommittee and the Aquaculture Task Force.