NOAA 2005-R439
Contact: Ben Sherman
NOAA News Releases 2005
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary welcomed four new members to its advisory council at the council’s spring meeting: Tim Tarver, Capt. Judy Helmey, Christi Lambert, and Ralph Neely.

  • Tarver, founding president of the Sapelo Saltwater Fishing Club and a member of the Coastal Conservation Association of Georgia’s Executive Board, has been diving and fishing at Gray’s Reef since 1979. He replaces Bing Phillips as the council’s sport fishing representative for the next three years. Phillips served six years on the council, the last year as vice-chair.
  • Helmey, a Savannah-based charter boat captain and owner of Miss Judy Charters, has been involved in the fishing industry all her life. She fills a newly-created council seat for charter/commercial fishing.
  • Neely, owner and operator of Zero Gravity Divers Depot in Savannah, has been an avid diver off the coast of Georgia since the 1970s. He was also a recipient of a sanctuary volunteer award in 2004. Neely replaces Judy Wright, also a private diver operator, in that role. Wright served on the council for six years, the last year as chair of the council.
  • Lambert, Southeast Georgia Conservation Director for The Nature Conservancy, replaces Dr. Doug Rader of Environmental Defense as the regional conservation representative. Lambert also serves on the Sapelo Island Estuarine Research Reserve Advisory Committee.

“We are excited to welcome the new Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council members, all of whom bring talent and expertise to the job,” said GRNMS Manager Reed Bohne. “We also thank Judy Wright and Bing Phillips for their dedication and hard work over the past years.”

In addition, two new governmental seats were recently created and filled: Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement.

Council member Joe Kimmel was elected chair of the sanctuary advisory council. Leslie Sautter was elected vice chair and Venetia Butler was elected secretary.

The GRNMS Advisory Council was established in August 1999 to provide advice and recommendations on management and protection of the sanctuary. The council, through its members, also serves as liaison to the community regarding sanctuary issues and represents community interests, concerns and management needs to the sanctuary and NOAA.

GRNMS is one of the largest near shore live-bottom reefs off the southeastern United States, encompassing approximately 17 square nautical miles. The area earned sanctuary designation in 1981. GRNMS consists of a series of sandstone outcroppings and ledges up to ten feet in height, in a predominantly sandy, flat-bottomed sea floor. The live bottom and ledge habitat support an abundant reef fish and invertebrate community. Loggerhead sea turtles, a threatened species, also use Gray’s Reef year-round for foraging and resting, and the reef is within the known winter calving ground for the highly endangered Northern Right Whale.

NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. The NMSP manages13 national marine sanctuaries and one coral reef ecosystem reserve that together encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

NOAA’s National Ocean Service manages the NMSP and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans. The National Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, 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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