Reflections at the Start of a New Year

Recreational anglers at sunset

The start of a new year is a chance to reflect on the work the Marine Fish Conservation Network has done and start thinking about the year ahead. The end of 2017 marked the completion of my first year at the Network. To say it is all I expected is to understate it by a wide margin. The team at the Network – Rob, Matt, Jo and Colin – has been exceedingly generous with their time, knowledge and experience. They afforded me the opportunity to get acquainted with the challenges we face and were patient as I adjusted to the style and approach of the Network.

Working with the Network’s National Policy Council and the regional campaign coordinators in Alaska, the West Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, New England and the mid-Atlantic has been rewarding and educational. The breadth of knowledge and range of experience from policy council members is fundamental to our success and allows the Network to put forward policy positions that represent a consensus of key ocean stakeholders.

The work the regional campaign coordinators do to advance the goals of the Network is essential to building a strong future for our ocean resources. All are dedicated professionals who get things done and make things happen. They have taught me a lot and have become trusted advisors. The Network is well served by their assistance and engagement and my work would be much harder without them.

In my elevator speech about the Network, I often ask people to visualize a working waterfront. I tell them if there is a business or organization in that picture, chances are they are part of our coalition. “Working waterfront” is not a buzz word; it is a fundamental concept underpinning our policy work. The economic engine that waterfront businesses and organizations represent are critical to our oceans’ future. Having that waterfront image in my mind, getting to know the people who are on the waterfront and having their voices in the policy discussions have been instrumental in my education and enjoyment in my work.

In 1916, Roosevelt wrote in his book A Book-Lover’s Holidays in the Open:

“Defenders of the short-sighted men who in their greed and selfishness will, if permitted, rob our country of half its charm by their reckless extermination of all useful and beautiful wild things sometimes seek to champion them by saying the ‘the game belongs to the people.’ So it does; and not merely to the people now alive, but to the unborn people. The ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ applies to the number within the womb of time, compared to which those now alive form but an insignificant fraction. Our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations, bids us restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations. The movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose, and method.”

One hundred years later I joined the Network, and one year into this gig those words are still the driving force behind my work. My efforts take place in the here and now; educating, advocating, analyzing and such, but my view is toward the future, and those unborn generations still in the womb of time. I take my work to “restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations” very seriously, and I am truly thankful for the opportunity to work with my friends and colleagues who make up the heart and soul of the Marine Fish Conservation Network.

About Tom Sadler

Tom Sadler is the Network's deputy director. He has an extensive background in advocacy and journalism and a passion for oceans and fly-fishing. 

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