President Obama recently named Ellen Peel, the much-respected president and CEO of The Billfish Foundation to the important position of U.S. Commissioner to International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). This agency is responsible for the management of Atlantic tuna and other migratory species such as sailfish, marlin, sharks and swordfish. Peel previously served as a U.S. representative to ICCAT for three years.
The announcement by the White House, along with the appointments of two others, was made on May 10. Russell F. Smith III was also named a U. S. Commissioner to ICCAT. The third appointee was Caitlin Durkovich, named to the Department of Homeland Security as Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection.
In making the appointments, President Obama said, “It gives me great confidence that such dedicated and capable individuals have agreed to join this administration and serve the American people. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”
Because of her passion and dedication to marine resources, Peel was asked in 2009 to serve as the Acting U.S. Recreational Fishing Commissioner to ICCAT, pending final approval by the President.
ICCAT is a 42-year old inter-governmental fishery organization of 50 member nations and is responsible for the conservation of tunas and migratory species in the Atlantic Ocean, and its adjacent seas including the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Mexico.
“I’m very much honored to be appointed to serve for the White House in the Commissioner position,” Peel said. “The challenges are great, but I am committed to advancing and defending the fishing opportunities for all U.S. fishing interests, including raising the priority of both the recreational fishing industry and the billfish species.”
Growing up in Long Beach, Mississippi, with the Gulf of Mexico as her back yard. She broadened her appreciation for the outdoors by working for the National Park Service before pursuing a law degree at Ole Miss. With a desire to represent big migratory fish including billfish species she continued her studies with a masters of law in marine resources at the Univ. of Washington in Seattle. She worked in Washington D.C. at the Center for Marine Conservation getting a solid background with the law-making process. She recently began her 16th year as the head of TBF, a post many in billfishing and marine conservation say was a position she was born for.
Despite many challenges like the reduced worldwide populations of billfish caused by commercial longlining and netting, her message has remained clear — good conservation pays in benefits to the fish stocks, the oceans’ ecosystems, improved fishing opportunities, strong economies and prepared future generations of ocean stewards and users. Through education, research, science, advocacy and uniting the recreational fishing community as one powerful voice, TBF’s accomplishments have been many including key socio-economic work in Central and South America, its Tag & Release program and worldwide technology on three oceans.
The Billfish Foundation works globally to advance the conservation of billfish and associated species and to improve the health of oceans and dependent economies. For more information visit billfish.org.
ICCAT Ellen Peel US Commissioner