Going to the mat for fish and fishermen

Zeke Grader fields questions from reporters at the San Francisco Presidio national park in 2009.

On one side: fish. On the other side: fishermen. In the middle: Zeke Grader.

For more than four decades, the California-based fishing advocate has worked to find common ground between taking care of the environment and looking out for the needs of family fishermen. Armed with passion and determination, the law school graduate and former U.S. Marine Corps sergeant is a recognized leader in the shaping of fishing and environmental rules that affect millions of people nationwide.

For 40 years, Zeke served as executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), the largest trade group of commercial fishermen on the West Coast. In that position, Zeke worked on hundreds of issues, from conserving prey for predators such as salmon, to protecting fish habitat, to dismantling dams, to helping fishing communities survive tough times. And, if you enjoy Pacific salmon, you should thank Zeke. Although Zeke has stepped down from his official position at PCCFA, he has continued to advocate for fish and fishermen and his approach deserves recognition.

Zeke Grader fields questions from reporters at the San Francisco Presidio national park in 2009.

I’ve worked with Zeke for the past 17 years, starting when I headed the Marine Fish Conservation Network, a national coalition of fishing groups including the PCFFA, conservationists, scientists, and others who work to maintain healthy fish populations. Zeke is a good friend and someone I could always go to for sound advice and a clear picture of how fishermen viewed an issue.

So in April, I joined other fishing and ocean leaders at a California event to pay tribute to a man who relentlessly prodded, argued, and plied every strategy imaginable to reach his goals. The guest list, which reflected Zeke’s vast influence and impact, included conservationists, fishing groups, state lawmakers, members of —> Read More