LSPMB expects 'seamless transition'
Despite Executive Director Ewell Smith resigning the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board (LSPMB) earlier this week and moving its offices, the board’s chairman is positive about the future.
“We see a seamless transition, other than losing a guy that has great respect in the industry. It is certainly not what was desired, but you deal with the hand that is dealt,” said Chef John Folse, chairman of the LSPMB and owner of Restaurant R’evolution in New Orleans and Chef John Folse & Company Manufacturing.
The Louisiana legislature voted earlier this year to move the LSPMB from the management of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to the Culture, Recreation, and Tourism department, which is administered by Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne. As a result, the LSPMB office staff is moving from New Orleans to Baton Rouge this week.
Smith resigned after opting to stay in New Orleans with his family and work in the city, according to Folse.
“That is a tremendous strain on most of the staff: they have families and connections in New Orleans,” he said. Former LSPMB Communications Director Ashley Roth also left the board earlier this month, as did a temporary worker.
However, Kristin McLaren, assistant director of the LSPMB, is making the move to Baton Rouge and Folse has asked Dardenne to appoint her as interim executive director while the board of directors searches for a new executive director. “I will be adding Kristin’s name as one of the main candidates [for executive director],” Folse said.
Meanwhile, the LSPMB will remain an autonomous board and will soon begin looking at funding and marketing initiatives.
“We are in the last year of spending the USD 30 million from BP, so we will be back to a budget of USD 600,000 a year. We have to make sure people recognize the importance of our entity, including additional funding through the legislature,” Folse said.
While the board’s Oyster Task Force, Crab Task Force, and Shrimp Task Force remain with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries under the new law, they will continue to help pay the LSPMB’s office staff salaries. “And we agreed to continue to market those entities,” Folse said.