NOAA 2004-R133
Contact: Chris Smith

NOAA News Releases 2004
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LeRoy Jones and Harry Davis, Jr. receive the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Environmental Hero Award. This prestigious award recognizes Jones and Davis for their outstanding contribution in supporting the mission of NOAA Fisheries through protection and preservation of our Nation's living marine resources.

Held in conjunction with Earth Day celebrations, the award honors NOAA volunteers for their “tireless efforts to preserve and protect our nation's environment.” In 1998, NOAA Fisheries required bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) in shrimp trawls in federal waters of the western Gulf of Mexico to reduce the incidental take of unwanted bycatch. Jones and Davis have worked independently and in association with NOAA Fisheries since 1992 developing and testing BRDs. Jones and Davis continue their efforts to improve BRDs and to test prototypes developed by NOAA Fisheries gear specialists and the shrimp industry. They have also worked with NOAA Fisheries in testing turtle excluder devices (TEDs) to help reduce the incidental capture of threatened and endangered sea turtles.

NOAA Fisheries often employs fishery observers to work with commercial fishing industry to collect essential data for fisheries management. Jones and Davis have worked with observers for many years. Although never formally trained as biologists, Jones and Davis have, and continue to serve as mentors for new observers and have become unofficial training partners with NOAA Fisheries. They have developed a vessel safety orientation for observers that has become a part of the training curriculum for the Southeast Fisheries Science Center's Galveston Laboratory Shrimp Trawl Observer Program.

Jones and Davis were children of fishing families in the area of Punta Gorda, Florida, a small town along the Florida Gulf Coast. They both began their fishing careers as mullet fishermen working along side their fathers over a half-century ago. Today, almost 50 years since they began their shrimping careers, they still operate shrimp boats from Freeport, Texas.

“NOAA and the nation are fortunate to have such dedicated people volunteer so much of their time,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “They set a fine example for others to follow in their communities. America needs more environmental heroes like them.”

Established in 1995 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Earth Day, the Environmental Hero award is presented to individuals and organizations that volunteer their time and energy to help NOAA carry out its mission.

“On behalf of the 12,500 men and women working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, I am pleased to present you with this 2004 Environmental Hero Award,” Lautenbacher wrote in a letter to the recipients. “Your dedicated efforts and outstanding accomplishments greatly benefit the environment and make our nation a better place for all Americans.”

There are a total of 33 winners—30 individuals and three organizations. Visit the NOAA Earth Day Web site: to read more about this year’s award winners.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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