Thursday, October 26, 2017

Meet The Council - Phil Dyskow and Dr. Bob Shipp

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is composed of the five Gulf State Marine Resource Directors, the Regional Administrator of NOAA Fisheries, and 11 members of the public who have experience and expertise in the fishery. The Council recently welcomed Dr. Greg Stunz back to the Council for his second term and inducted new member Phil Dyskow and retuning member Dr. Bob Shipp.

Phil Dyskow

Phil Dyskow, the former president of Yamaha Marine Group, is a life-long recreational angler with experience in both inshore and offshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico. He’s no stranger to advising the Federal Government on marine issues. He’s served two appointments on both the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee, the group responsible for advising the Secretary of Commerce on all living marine resource matters, and the National Boating Safety Advisory Council under the Secretary of Homeland Security. Mr. Dyskow has also received numerous honors and awards related to his professional prowess in the marine industry and his conservation service. He was inducted into the Marine Industry Hall of Fame and had been named the 2015 CCC Manufacturer “Man” of the Year. He’s received the Kenai River Guardia Award and served as a board member for the Kenai River Sport Fishing Association, a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring the sustainability of the Kenai River in Alaska. He’s also been named an Honorary Legacy Life Member of the Coastal Conservation Association, a group focused on the conservation of marine resources to ensure future availability of those resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public.

Phil comes from a long line of boaters and waterman.  He learned to fish from his grandfather who lived to be over 100 and fished and rowed his own boat into his late 90’s.  His father was also an avid hunter, fisherman and boater.  Phil began recreational fishing at age 5 and it turned into a lifelong focus both as a pastime and as a career.  He has worked in the fishing tackle, boat and marine engine industries his entire adult life. Phil says, “as my career developed, I began to understand the importance of preserving and protecting our precious marine resources for future generations to use and enjoy.  Being active in managing our Gulf resources is a way to pay back for an industry that has been very good to me.”

Mr. Dyskow answered the following questions to provide more insight on his perspective on the fishery:

What is the most important issue in our fishery right now?
“I believe that the most important issue we face is the need to create a better balance of regulation and policy that meets the needs of the broad group of stakeholders we represent.”
What can the Gulf Council do to improve management?
“The best thing we can do to improve management is to look beyond our own personal focus to embrace the ideas of others.”

Do you have a favorite fishing story to share?
“I really don't have a favorite fishing story.  All of the time I spend on the Gulf is special to me, especially the time just before dawn when a new day is beginning.”

Bob Shipp

Dr. Bob Shipp is one of the most well-known fisheries scientists across the Gulf coast. He has spent his life researching and appreciating the fish of the Gulf of Mexico. His passion for the ocean was ignited at the early age of 4 by his grandfather with whom he enjoyed countless hours of surf fishing from the shores of Fort Walton Beach, Florida. As he grew a bit older he and his cousins spent summers snorkeling jetties and piers collecting fish and invertebrates for aquariums. Eventually, Bob got into SCUBA diving when it was first becoming a recreational activity.

During his childhood Dr. Shipp moved to New Orleans, Louisiana where he began his academic pursuit of fisheries. He focused on marine biology as much as he could, making it the topic of every school project possible. Dr. Shipp explains “My friends from those days joke with me now for being the only one of the group that followed through with my harebrained teenage career dreams.”

After graduating from Spring Hill College, Dr. Shipp attended Florida State University where he earned his master’s degree and PhD. Shortly thereafter he began working for the University of South Alabama teaching anatomy and physiology. He quickly moved into a fisheries biology position where his career flourished. He chaired the biology department and served as the acting director at the Sea Lab on Dauphin Island. He recently retired after serving 20 years as the chairman of the Department of Marine Sciences.

In addition to his work with the university, Dr. Shipp served for 12 years as the Director for the Alabama chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association. He has also been a judge for the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo since 1982. He authors articles for multiple magazines and scientific papers, and he published “Dr. Bob Shipp’s Guide to Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico.”

Dr. Bob Shipp answered a few questions to give us some insight on his perspective of our Gulf fishery.

What is the most important issue in our fishery right now?
“I’m concerned that federal fishery law (the Magnuson-Stevens Act) prevents the Council from trying innovative fishery management techniques. Requiring species to be managed using quotas prevents the use of tools like Marine Protected Areas to manage our fish. Our hands are tied by the Act and it shows – the red snapper stock is healthier than it’s ever been, and we still have shorter and shorter fishing seasons – we obviously need the freedom to try something different.”

What can the Gulf Council do to improve management?
“The Council’s options are very few. Under the current system we can only tweak things rather than solve problems. The idea of Regional Management, for example, still only allows the Council to change some minor management measures like seasons and bag limits, while the major problems still remain.”

Do you have a favorite fishing story to share?
“I have a group of close friends that I went to high school with who wanted to experience some yellowfin tuna fishing. They are mostly freshwater fishermen and had not had the opportunity to spend much time off-shore. We all got together for a weekend after 41 years apart, and spent the day 100 miles out catching yellowfin. I had so much fun watching them experience such an amazing day on the water. We used kite baits, and at one point the tuna were leaping 8 feet out of the water. The excitement really transported us all back to our giddy 15-year-old selves again, and for that reason we now make the trip an annual event. It’s always one of my favorite outings of the year.”