RALEIGH, N.C. (Nov. 7, 2012) — Bennett Wynne, a fisheries biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, was named Fisheries Biologist of the Year by the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies at its 66thannual conference on Oct. 9, in Hot Springs, AR.
Wynne received the honor for his outstanding work in both aquatic habitat conservation and fisheries management.
As the agency’s Anadromous Fisheries Coordinator, Wynne coordinates the management of coastal migratory stocks of shad, herring, striped bass and Atlantic sturgeon. He has developed critical working relationships with numerous stakeholders concerning enhancement of aquatic habitats for the benefit of these populations.
“Bennett works diligently to assure adequate spawning flows for migratory fish in North Carolina’s coastal rivers,continually looking for opportunities to increase access to upstream habitats,” said Robert Curry, chief of the Division of Inland Fisheries.
On the Cape Fear River, Wynne advocated for years in support of construction of a rock arch fish passageway over Lock and Dam 1 — the first impediment to anadromous fishes migrating upriver from the ocean. Beginning June 1, 2011, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction of a rock arch fish passageway at this location, and the project is now almost complete.
“This is a landmark accomplishment, representing the first rock arch structure for fish passage built in North Carolina, and one of only a few in the Southeast,” Curry said.
Wynne is currently involved with evaluating the effectiveness of this structure and will help determine the potential for similar passage projects on dams upstream.
In 2010, he coordinated Atlantic sturgeon sampling in the upper Roanoke River basin, which resulted in the first documented capture of sturgeon from this area. Currently, he is leading the effort to develop plans to enhance river herring stocks in the Chowan River basin.
“Bennett fills a unique niche,seamlessly blending habitat conservation with fisheries management,” Curry said. “His contributions to anadromous fish population restoration in North Carolina are extensive and make him well deserving of receiving an honor as prestigious as the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ Fisheries Biologist of the Year.”
The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is an organization whose members include the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and state agencies with primary responsibility for management and protection of the fish and wildlife resources in 14 other states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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