I am wild oceans

Theresa Labriola

Wild Oceans Pacific Program Director

How did I get here?

People wonder, “How did a New York lawyer wind up advising on the management of Pacific fisheries, striped marlin, long lines and drift nets?”

My family’s boat rarely left the dock without me on board. Whether fishing for striped bass or tuna, in calm waters or choppy seas, I embraced the adventure and savored the family feast that would follow each successful trip. And then in 1984, Congress passed the Striped Bass Conservation Act and several Atlantic states placed a moratorium on striper fishing. It’s the first time I wondered whether we’d have plenty of fish in the future for fishing and for family feasts.

Fast forward twenty years – I was chasing polluters who jumped through laws full of loopholes. That’s when I decided to fight for protecting public resources for public use from the other side of the equation – advocating for smart, conservation-minded commercial and recreational fishing regulations.

As part of Wild Oceans, I untangle the birds nest of local, state, and federal laws that most anglers don’t have the time or inclination to unravel. Then, I work with groups like International Game Fishing Association, Laguna Nigel Fishing Club, Coastal Conservation Association and Los Angeles Rod and Reel Club to make sure that the voice of the recreational angler is heard over the noise of better organized interests.

For me, it’s bigger than bag limits, quotas or access to some specific waterway. It’s about pushing the commercial fleet towards cleaner, more sustainable gear and making sure the big fish we love to catch have enough forage to eat, and a safe environment to breed and grow so that the fishery is preserved for the future.

This year, I was honored to received the IGFA Conservation Award for bringing together diverse parties, from sport fishermen to environmentalists to turtle conservationists to achieve our common goal – to build a healthy, thriving Pacific Ocean ecosystem. I hope my work proves that cooperation is our best strategy towards achieving this goal. Together we must be willing to step-up and step-out, to collaborate and innovate, and to mobilize our resources and rally our constituents.

That’s why this east-coast girl is proud to say that I support the future of fishing.

I am Wild Oceans.

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