Bob Jones to retire from Southeastern Fisheries Association after five decades

Published on
June 27, 2018

Bob Jones, the longtime executive director of the Southeastern Fisheries Association (SFA), will retire at the end of 2018, the Gulf Seafood Foundation announced.

Jones’ career serving Gulf of Mexico fisheries in the United States has spanned five decades, beginning when he was a boy growing up in Florida gillnetting for shrimp. As a teenager, Jones worked in St. Augustine on a shrimp boat and as a live bait fisherman – stations that would eventually inspire him to hone his fishing industry chops by traveling across the southeast region of the United States to meet with fishermen and wholesalers.

Jones reportedly “knew it all” back in 1964, when he was first hired by the Southeastern Fisheries Association. His story changed drastically, however, as he spent more time with the organization, he said, getting to know the harvesters, packers, processors, distributors, and restaurants committed to preserving the fisheries resources around the Gulf and beyond. 

During Jones’ storied tenure leading the Southeastern Fisheries Association – a non-profit fisheries trade association focused on defending, protecting, and enhancing the commercial fishing industry in the southeastern United States – he spearheaded an influential red snapper tagging program in the South Atlantic and lead the Florida Seafood Marketing program (funded through a self-imposed fee on wholesale seafood dealers and fishermen) to success, keeping king and Spanish mackerel available to the market and establishing the Tortugas shrimp nursery off of Key West.

In addition to his work with SFA, Jones also served six years on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, including four years as its vice chairman and one year as its chairman. His work across these various regional associations and councils has left a lasting impact on the U.S. seafood industry, according to his colleagues.

“I want to thank Bob for his open and honest interaction in the seafood industry over the past 54 years,” said Peter Jarvis, president of both SFA and Ft. Lauderdale’s Triar Seafood. “Under his leadership the organization has maintained respect for seeking the truth and presenting the facts.”

“The Gulf of Mexico, as well as the U.S. commercial fishing industry, is in a better place because of the efforts of Bob to ensure this important way of life is represented by a strong, intelligent and truthful voice,” added Jim Gossen, chairman of the Gulf Seafood Foundation. “Bob, and the Southeastern Fisheries Association, has been a great partner in ensuring that our commercial fishermen can continue to provide the best, and safest, seafood to consumers across America and around the world.” 

SFA’s board of directors has begun the process of searching for the next leader of the organization, said the Gulf Seafood Foundation. During the transition, Jones will remain in his current role with SFA. Once a new executive director has been chosen, Jones intends to stay involved in the seafood industry “in the area of food safety, consumer fraud, and promoting equal access to the nation’s fisheries for non-fishermen, especially seniors,” the foundation said. 

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