John Williamson

John Williamson

John Williamson began his commercial fishing career out of college in 1974, and has captained or crewed on vessels in New England, Florida and Alaska.  His hands-on experience ranges from fisheries as diverse as the in-shore and off-shore lobster fishery, sink and pelagic gill netting, otter trawling, trolling and computerized jigging.

John is owner of the F/V Sea Keeper a 40-foot vessel outfitted for off-shore fishing, research, and nature-adventure charters.  He does professional consulting in living marine resource management, conservation and development.

A familiar face to commercial and recreational fishermen from Maine to Virginia, John served for nine years (1996-2005) on the New England Fishery Management Council, the primary body crafting regulations for federal-water fisheries in the Northeast.   He has played a leadership role in writing fishery management plans for groundfish, sea scallops,  dogfish and essential fish habitat, among others.

For nearly a decade, he has been an active member of the Advisory Council for Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, serving on its executive committee during development of a Sanctuary management plan.  He currently chairs the SBNMS Zoning Working Group with representative stakeholders from marine science, the fishing and environmental communities.  He is a founding member of Stellwagen Alive! Friends of Our National Marine Sanctuary.

John has served on the Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Team, was an industry leader in testing the feasibility of gillnet “pingers” as a technology for reducing marine mammal entanglements in fishing nets, and helped lead a research partnership between the New England Aquarium and commercial fishermen.  Pingers have since become the primary tool for entanglement mitigation in northeast gill net fisheries.

Beginning with his tenure on the fishery management council, John has been a passionate voice for conservation and restoration of living marine resources.  An eight-year affiliation with the New England Aquarium allowed him to develop a network of like-minded members of the fishing community, working for durable conservation solutions.  Until recently, John managed the New England Fish Conservation Program for Ocean Conservancy, serving to bridge environmental and industry interests.  He is now in private practice as SeaKeeper Consulting.

John at MREP

John at MREP

The Marine Resource Education Program, a six-day curriculum in fishery science and management offered to commercial fishermen and marine resource professionals, was founded in 2001 led by John as co-principal in partnership with Dr. Andrew Rosenberg and educators at the University of New Hampshire.  The MRE Program, which has been enthusiastically received by fishermen in the northeast and recognized by NOAA Fisheries, is now based at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute with Alexa Dayton, Mary Beth Tooley and John Williamson as managing directors.  Offered twice annually, the MREP has had over 460 graduates to date, people working throughout the industry and actively participating in all aspects of fishery management and development.

A business major in college, John has trained in conflict resolution and meeting management.  He is a USCG licensed Master of Motor Vessels (50 ton) upon Near Coastal Waters.

Sea Keeper Charters

John offers nature and adventure charters for clients seeking an intimate connection with the environment of the Gulf of Maine