Glenn Prickett, incoming Gulf of Maine Research Institute CEO, welcomes industry collaboration
The Portland, Maine, U.S.A.-based Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI), an independent marine nonprofit dedicated to studying the Gulf of Maine ecosystem and the people who depend on it, recently announced the hiring of Glenn Prickett as its next CEO. Prickett, who was previously president and CEO of the World Environment Center in Washington, D.C., has 35 years of environmental, climate, and business development experience working with NGOs, volunteer organizations, and the private sector. He will start his tenure at GMRI in September. In an interview with SeafoodSource, Prickett discussed his new role and what he hopes to accomplish during his time at the helm of GMRI.
SeafoodSource: What do you hope to contribute to GMRI in your time there?
Prickett: I’ve spent my whole career at the nexus of economic and ecological sustainability. The main question that interests me is, “How can we realize the economic opportunities that sustain our communities while also protecting and preserving healthy ecosystems?” I was attracted to GMRI because they care about both the Gulf of Maine and the hardworking people who depend on it. So, I hope to support and strengthen that mission. As excited as I am to bring my skills and knowledge to this work, I’m even more excited to meet and learn from existing and emerging leaders in the region’s fishing and aquaculture industries. The rest of the world has a lot to learn from the Gulf of Maine.
SeafoodSource: GMRI has an interesting model – similar to a vertically integrated nonprofit – bringing together a wide range of activities in a focused geographic area. How does that model serve to improve the health of the Gulf of Maine and its resources?
Prickett: Our mission at GMRI is to develop and deliver collaborative solutions to global ocean challenges. We collaborate with stakeholders and partners to support healthy ocean ecosystems, a thriving blue economy, sustainable seafood, and climate-resilient coastal communities.
How we do our work is important to me as the incoming CEO, but I’m really more focused on the why. To us, sustainability isn’t just about the ecosystem; it’s also about the people who depend on that ecosystem to earn a living. If we want to sustain both a healthy Gulf of Maine ecosystem and a thriving blue economy surrounding it, just doing the [research] isn’t enough. Our interdisciplinary approach integrates the work of our world-class marine and climate scientists with skilled educators, seafood supply chain experts, and business leaders. Together, these teams put relevant science in the hands of the people who need it the most – whether that be the international marine research community, Maine educators and their students, seafood businesses and harvesters, municipalities planning for climate impacts, or blue economy start-ups.
SeafoodSource: How does GMRI’s work relate to the seafood industry?
Prickett: Everything we do starts with good relationships, and our approach is always to focus on the needs of our partners and stakeholders. Our independent, objective, and nonpartisan perspective allows us to convene diverse – and often competing – stakeholders to solve complex problems, which is a unique and valuable role for us to play. When it comes to the seafood industry, specifically, we work with leaders across the supply chain to build market demand and empower consumers to find and buy Gulf of Maine seafood. We work with retailers, restaurants, seafood dealers, fishermen, and other stakeholders – all committed to shared goals through our program. Despite claims to the contrary in popular media, there are many responsibly harvested fish, shellfish, and sea greens from the Gulf of Maine, and as a research institute, we’re in a good position to help people understand that they can feel good about choosing seafood from this region.
SeafoodSource: You have worked on climate issues in your previous positions, and it is a priority for GMRI. Where do you see the opportunity to work with the industry on climate?
Prickett: Climate change is, without a doubt, the foremost ocean challenge of our time. When it comes to solving the problems posed to us by climate change – whether that be shifting species and related fisheries impacts, sea level rise that threatens coastal infrastructure, or any other number of issues – all options have to be on the table. But solutions that don’t consider and include the needs of fishermen, the business community, and other key stakeholders just aren’t solutions at all. We aim to support local, state, national, and global climate actions that will empower coastal communities to thrive in a warmer world. To do that, we’ll work closely with the fishing and aquaculture industries, municipal leaders, the business community, and everyone else who is invested in finding real solutions that reflect their distinct needs.
Photo courtesy of GMRI