VIRGINIA BEACH, VA – Last week the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council presented its outgoing chairman, Richard B. Robins, Jr., with the first MAFMC Award of Excellence. The award was presented to Robins for his distinguished service to the Council and outstanding contribution to the conservation and management of our nation’s marine fisheries resources.
Robins was appointed to the Council in 2007 and was elected as Chairman the following year. During his 8-year tenure as chairman, Robins led the Council in the development of more than 25 amendments, 17 frameworks, numerous specifications for the Council’s managed species, and a number of other major projects. He also served on the Council Coordination Committee and the Northeast Region Coordinating Council, represented the Council at New England Council meetings, attended and participated in numerous workshops and committees, and served as the Council representative at various meetings around the world.
“Rick Robins has demonstrated exemplary leadership as chairman of the Council,” said Chris Moore, Executive Director of the Council. “His chairmanship has been defined by an unwavering commitment to the sustainability of Mid-Atlantic fisheries and his tireless efforts to develop innovative approaches to the complex challenges of marine fisheries management.”
One of Robins’ most notable accomplishments was leading the Council through a visioning and strategic planning process. He advocated for the development of a “stakeholder-driven” plan, which was achieved through a large-scale outreach effort in which more than 1,500 stakeholders provided input on the future of Mid-Atlantic fisheries. This process culminated in 2014 with the implementation of the Council’s first-ever strategic plan.
Under his leadership, the Mid-Atlantic Council became the first of the eight regional fishery management councils to utilize the discretionary provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to designate areas of protection for deep sea corals. The Council’s Deep Sea Corals Amendment established a nearly 38,000 square-mile area in which deep sea coral will be protected from the impacts of fishing gear.
Robins also demonstrated particular leadership in the Council’s effort to transition to a more ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management. At his final meeting as chairman, the Council approved a guidance document to facilitate the transition to an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM). This document lays out a framework for the Council to coordinate ecosystem considerations across Mid-Atlantic fishery management plans (FMPs). During the same meeting, the Council approved an amendment to protect more than 50 species of unmanaged forage fish in the Mid-Atlantic.