METAIRIE, La. —The Gulf Seafood Institute, a non-profit advocacy group for the Gulf of Mexico’s seafood supply chain, added two new board members this month to help guide policy and resource efforts through 2018.
Eric Buckner, Senior Director of the Seafood Category for Sysco Corporation based in Houston, TX, and Michael Colby, founding GSI member and charter boat captain based in Clearwater, Florida, were both elected by unanimous vote. Harlon Pearce, GSI’s board president, welcomed the additions.
“Through the voices and experiences of our newest directors, we’re certain that seafood harvesters, suppliers, buyers, consumers and partners will know GSI is hard at work for them,” Pearce said. “We’re grateful for their service, interest and dedication to the seafood community, and we’re excited to add them to our board.”
Mr. Buckner has spent more than 25 years in all aspects of the food service business from chef owner/operator of restaurants to food service distribution. He is an Auburn University graduate in Hotel and Restaurant Management with a culinary background sharpened along the Alabama Gulf Coast. He joined Sysco in 2004 and progressed to Vice President of Merchandising for Sysco Corporation’s Gulf Coast operations, before joining the corporate office in February 2013. Mr. Buckner is currently Sysco’s Senior Director of the Seafood Category, based in Houston, TX.
“As a longtime professional engaged in the Seafood industry along the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas, I am excited to have the opportunity to serve on the Gulf Seafood Institute’s Board of Directors,” Buckner said. “I look forward to engaging with other stakeholders to ensure access to the Gulf’s resources for years to come and shape opportunities for the seafood communities along the Gulf Coast to thrive.”
Mr. Buckner joins Mike Colby, a long time GSI member, as a new board member.
Mr. Colby is a respected fisherman, and licensed owner/operator of charter boats and head boats based in Clearwater, Florida. He currently serves as President of the Clearwater Marine Association, and is on the Board of Advisors for the Charter Fishermen’s Association. He is also a member of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Business Advisory Council.
As a graduate of Texas A&M University’s Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences program, Mr. Colby has keen interest in utilizing data to help manage our nation’s fisheries. He serves as a member of the Gulf of Mexico Management Council’s Data Collection panel, a Fishery Advisory Council member for U.S. Congressional District 13, and serves as the Regional Coordinator for GSI’s Eastern Gulf of Mexico Electronic Logbook project. His working knowledge a key asset, Congressional committees have called on him for panel testimony on a variety of fisheries issues.
“This is my opportunity to provide GSI and all of our partners an insight to what concerns and interests Gulf fishermen the most,” Mr. Colby said. “That’s a real important thing to me; I take that seriously.
“GSI is so unique because it draws its membership and leadership from all sectors of the seafood industry,” Colby said. “That’s a real first in the Gulf of Mexico management — convening charter fishermen, commercial fishermen, academics, restaurant organizations and fishermen under one umbrella. I think GSI is in a position to accomplish a lot more because of this broad perspective.”
GSI’s executive director Margaret Henderson welcomed the experience both new board directors offer toward uniting and protecting the seafood industry, preserving healthy fishery resources, and ensuring safe seafood supplies.
“Mr. Colby — Captain Mike —is solidly respected among his peers and his dedication and enthusiasm toward improving fisheries science for the Gulf of Mexico’s charter fleet is unparalleled,” Henderson said. “He’s a fisherman’s fisherman, and we’re lucky to have him on board.”
“Mr. Buckner brings a national perspective to the Gulf, with Sysco being one of the biggest seafood buyers in the country. Eric’s participation in GSI’s Board enables us to effectively represent the top end of the seafood supply chain (the buyers) with policymakers and stakeholders.”
In addition to Colby and Buckner, GSI’s board includes representation from all five Gulf states and every aspect of the industry, including harvesters, processors, charterboat operators, restaurants and scientists.
The Gulf Seafood Institute brings together these segments of the Gulf seafood supply chain to advocate on behalf of the entire Gulf seafood community and the consumers who depend on Gulf seafood. The organization leverages its broad base of stakeholders to provide policy makers, from Capitol Hill to state capitals, with solutions on pressing issues facing the Gulf’s seafood communities. The organization is dedicated to building a consensus on big-picture issues and to approach these challenges in a positive manner that elevates the entire supply chain.