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MAFAC's Climate and Marine Resources Task Force

This Task Force has being created as a communication conduit for stakeholder input to MAFAC, and subsequently NOAA Leadership, on the production, delivery, and use of climate-related information in fulfilling NOAA Fisheries mission activities.  By providing this input, the Task Force will assist NOAA in fulfilling its marine stewardship mandates that include consideration of changing environmental conditions and other factors on marine resources and the industries that depend on these resources. 

Some example tasks of the new Task Force will include the review of the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy, regional implementation plans, identification of community impacts related to climate change and fisheries, and other topics as needed. The Climate and Marine Resources Task Force will report to MAFAC’s Ecosystems Approach Subcommittee.

The following 12 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:

Rowan Baker – Mr. Baker is a retired Fish & Wildlife biologist from the northwest with experience in conducting climate vulnerability assessments on protected resources.  He worked as a team member on the Aquatic Climate Adaptation Team under the National Climate Adaptation Task Force and has helped to create action plans to managing resources in climate change. 

Merrick Burdan – Mr. Burdan is a fisheries and industry economist with experience in catch shares, stock rebuilding, EFH, and other fishery management issues.  As Executive Director of the Marine Conservation Alliance, an industry non-profit group that works on sustainable fisheries and community issues, he is working to advance the considerations of climate issues into the management of marine resources.  He is also President at the North Pacific Fisheries Research Foundation.  

Charles Colgan – Dr. Colgan is a resource economist with over extensive experience in coastal and ocean resource economics.  His current work centers on climate change impacts on coastal communities, including detailed modeling of changing environmental values of coastal wetlands due to climate change.  Though based in Maine, he experience extends nationally as well.

Samantha Danchuk – Ms. Danchuk is Assistant Director for the Environmental Planning and Coastal Resilience Division in Broward County, Florida, and has led a variety of complex coastal modeling studies involving storm and sea level rise scenarios and their impacts on marine and coastal resources.  She works with the 4-county Southeast Florida Climate Change Compact on regional action plans, and provided support to the Presidential Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.

Rick Gaffney – Mr. Gaffney is a lifetime recreational and occasional commercial fisherman, entrepreneur, and consultant with experience throughout the Pacific Islands region.  While serving on the MPA Federal Advisory Committee and the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument Advisory Committee, he was involved in the production and delivery of climate change analyses and recommendations that identified Pacific Island community and fishery related impacts.

Patrick Halpin – Dr. Halpin is a Professor and Director of the Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab at Duke University, which develops geospatial tools and analyses to address management priorities in the marine environment. A significant portion of their work pertains to building spatial decision support tools for conservation of living marine resources under a changing climate.  He also is a principle investigator, along with 7 international institutions, examining the impacts of climate change on fish distribution and fisheries yield.

Robert Leaf -- Dr. Leaf is Assistant Professor at the Gulf Coast Research Lab of the Univ. of Southern Mississippi, focused on climate, fishery issues and ecosystem interactions as a bottomā€up determinant of population dynamics.  Has participated in numerous stock assessments for crab and fin fish species, and helped develop software tools to construct climate indices of ecosystem productivity using remotely sensed and modeled oceanographic and productivity data (as a post-doc at the NMFS NE Fisheries Science Center).

Andy Pershing – Dr. Perching is Chief Scientific Officer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute well known for documenting a major shift in the Gulf of Maine ecosystem in the 1990s. He brings comprehensive knowledge of how climate variability and change impacts marine ecosystems and has focused on strategies to help fisheries adapt to climate variability.  He has testified to Congress on climate impacts on fisheries and currently works to understand the causes/consequences of the Gulf of Maine warming and its impact on species ranging from tiny copepods to fish and right whales.

Sylvia Spalding -- Ms. Spalding is the Communications Officer and staff lead for a Western Pacific Fisheries Management Council Committee developing a Marine Planning and Climate Change Policy and Implementation Plan.  Her work includes production and delivery of climate-related information for marine resources management, and she was a steering committee member for two First Stewards Symposiums on Climate Change which focused on adaptation strategies, such as the use of traditional knowledge.  She is also active on community outreach on climate change on a personal level.

Lisa Suatoni -- Dr. Suatoni is the Senior Scientist, Oceans Program at National Resources Defense Council whose breadth of knowledge includes marine science, fisheries management issues, climate change, evolutionary biology, ocean acidification, and the management of data limited fisheries.  She was principle investigator on a NSF project to study socio-economic vulnerability of coastal communities and shellfish fisheries to ocean acidification. She’s worked directly with NOAA to identify/develop programmatic and communication strategies on ocean acidification at the local and national level.

Gale Vick – Ms. Vick has extensive experience working on fisheries issues and with Tribal communities, with a deep understanding of environmental issues facing coastal and interior Alaska. She works with the Tanana Chiefs Conference, a consortium of 37 member tribes representing 235,000 sq. miles of interior Alaska. She is a past member of committees serving the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council and the Alaska Board of Fisheries, as well as consultant to the Alaska Sea Life Center and many regional fisheries associations.

David Wallace – Mr. Wallace represents commercial fisheries interests and is a member of the ecosystem and habitat advisory panels for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Councils.  He is also a member of a Northeast Fisheries Science Center committee investigating the effects of climate change on fish populations. He recently finished two terms as a MAFAC member.

Additionally, the following MAFAC members serve on the Task Force and as liaisons to MAFAC: Columbus Brown and Pam Yochem.