I amWild Oceans
Wild Oceans was born back in 1973 as the National Coalition for Marine Conservation in the lovely coastal city of Savannah, Georgia. I showed up 5 years later – with a girlfriend, 2 dogs and a VW bug; in other words, everything a young man needs except a job – and I was lucky enough to get hired as NCMC’s first paid employee, for which I am forever grateful.
Because of my love of books and writing on the one hand, and nature and the outdoors on the other, I’d spent years jumping back and forth between majors in English Literature and Wildlife Management, before ending up with a degree in Environmental Conservation from the University of New Hampshire.
My mixed science and humanities education turned out to be perfect for understanding the science behind ocean issues and effectively communicating our positions to both policymakers and the public. I highly recommend it. The sciences and liberal arts together teach critical thinking, seeing the big picture, coming at problems from different angles and, above all, seeking ways for humankind to co-exist with the natural world.
My timing wasn’t bad either. The organization – an environmental group comprised of fishermen –was a novelty in the 1970s and marine fish conservation itself was a brand-new endeavor. I was lucky enough to be there at the birth of ocean fish conservation: the Magnuson-Stevens Act (enacted 1976) was just being implemented. I attended some of the earliest Regional Fishery Management Council meetings and worked on the first Fishery Management Plans.
As the art and science of ocean fish conservation evolved, we played a pivotal role in that evolution, one I look back on as an expanding circle of concern for all marine life and habitat, because fish are inseparable from the world they live in, as are we.
But through it all our focus has remained on the fish and fishing. One of my early mentors used to say the quality of fishing is the quality of life. As a passionate angler, he meant it literally. But I’ve come to see he’s right in a broader sense, too.
Keeping the oceans wild to preserve the future of fishing is not just a slogan . Here’s what I believe. First off, we have to learn to coexist with the sea rather than simply exploiting it while setting aside designated areas for preservation. Co-existence means fishing as part of the natural system, sharing the resource with a myriad of other creatures of the sea and respecting its natural limits. In turn, when fishing is seen by the non-fishing public as ecologically-sustainable while providing fresh, local seafood, jobs in shore-side communities, and recreation for millions of Americans, public support for this kind of fishing can serve as a bulwark against competing industrial uses that would leave little space for wild fisheries and the wild oceans that sustain them.
Finally, check out the other “I Am Wild Oceans” pages if you haven’t already. The future is in good hands. The leadership of Pam Lyons Gromen and Theresa Labriola is widely acknowledged and praised by their peers, the highest compliment there can be. I’m proud that they are true keepers of the Wild Oceans flame, while being completely unique talents. As the late, great jazzman Ornette Coleman once said of his band: “I don’t want them to follow me. I want them to follow themselves, but to be with me.”
And because WE are Wild Oceans, we’ve never been stronger or more effective.
Do you support the future of fishing? Tell us your story on Facebook and Instagram with #IAmWildOceans
Board of Director
- Tim ChoateBoard MemberClose
Tim served as Chairman of the Wild Oceans Board of Directors from 2011 through 2022, and he led the organization to many great successes during his tenure. Tim has been an ardent angler since moving to Islamorada, Florida from New York City as a boy in the mid-1950s. As president of Artmarina, Tim has managed numerous charter fishing operations and lodges throughout Central and South America, including the Galapagos Islands. He pioneered the use of circle hooks in offshore fishing to enhance survival of released marlin and other big fish as well as the use of socioeconomic studies by governments and conservation groups to validate the correlation of billfishing conservation and tourism. In 2012, Tim was awarded the prestigious Frank Johnson Trophy for Personal Achievement in the Advancement of Big Game Sport Fishing by Guy Harvey Outpost, LTD and a year later received an IGFA Conservation Award for his role in passage of The Billfish Conservation Act of 2012. Tim was also inducted into the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame in 2016.
- Tim ErvinVice ChairmanClose
Splitting time between Islamorada, FL and Onekama, MI, Tim can be found chasing salmon and trout on Lake Michigan, the 2nd largest freshwater sea, or working the Key’s backcounty and nearshore waters. A leader for over 30 years in government, business and nonprofits, Tim works on matters ranging from economic and community development to resource protection involving fisheries, water quality and economic development and building philanthropy. His focus with Wild Oceans is fund development and organizational capacity building.
- Mary BarleyBoard MemberClose
Mary Barley has served on the Wild Oceans board since 1998. She served as Vice Chairperson of The Everglades Foundation from 2003-2012. Mary is also Chair of The Everglades Trust and serves on the boards of the Atlantic Salmon Federation (U.S.) and the National Parks Conservation Association. She has received many awards and accolades for her work and been profiled in numerous magazines and newspapers, including Time’s Hero of the Planet. Mary resides in Islamorada, Florida.
- Bill BoyceBoard MemberClose
A native Californian, Bill spent four years as a fisheries biologist with the U.S. Forest Service in California, Oregon, Colorado, and Alaska. He then spent twelve years working for the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) monitoring and conserving stocks of tunas, dolphins, billfish and sharks by the Eastern Pacific tuna purse seine fleet. Bill currently directs, produces and hosts the award winning TV series, IGFA Angler’s Digest.
- Jody BrightBoard MemberClose
Jody is a marlin fisherman by trade and a conservationist by rote. He has worked on fishing boats in 22 tropical countries, but now focuses exclusively on the Pacific. He has worked with the Fisheries Departments of most Pacific Island nations and regional fishery bodies throughout the Pacific Rim. As founder and President of the Hawaii Conservation Association, Jody worked with everyone from Native Hawaiian villagers to legislators in crafting and passing Act 306, establishing the West Hawaii Regional Fisheries Management Area. Currently his focus is field work and support of the blue marlin pop-up satellite archival tag program. He also owns and operates the Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series, the first events in Hawaii to pay cash prizes to tag-and-release marlin.
- Stephanie Osgood Choate-OppenheimerCo-ChairClose
Stephanie Choate is the daughter of Tim Choate, our previous Wild Oceans Chairman, and is proud to continue with the organization as co-chair. Stephanie currently lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her family but continues to travel to fish and spread the word for Wild Oceans. Stephanie has won the Blue Marlin World Cup, the Bermuda Triple Crown, and is the recipient of the IGFA Gil Keech Heavy Tackle Award. She also holds the women’s 50 lb line class record for 1,111 pound black marlin. In her fishing travels, Stephanie shares our vision while inspiring younger generations of anglers to educate themselves in fishing policy and catch and release practices.
- Peter TruslowCo-ChairClose
Raised on the water since birth, Peter Truslow grew up in Long Island, New York and Maine. An avid fisherman, diver, sailor and water sports enthusiast, Peter first fell in love with fishing while fishing with his grandfather, also an avid sportsman. Since graduating from Tufts University in 1986 with a degree in International Relations, Peter has held several important positions in the marine and boating industries, including; marketing with Motor Boating and Sports Afield magazines, President of EdgeWater Powerboats, and CEO of Bertram Yachts. Peter is currently the Managing Director of Hunt Yachts and resides in St. Petersburg, Florida.
- Stanley ArkinDirector EmeritusClose
Stanley, a self-employed venture capitalist based in New York City, is a lover of the arts and an avid angler who fishes from the east end of Long Island.
- John HeyerDirector EmeritusClose
John has been an active bluewater tag-and-release fisherman for many years. His interest in conserving marine resources is the hope that his grandchildren and future generations can have as much enjoyment from the sea as he has had.