Donor Profile: John Connelly, President of the National Fisheries Institute

The National Fisheries Institute (NFI), composed of commercial fishing and seafood businesses, promotes sustainable and affordable seafood around the world. The member companies are involved in the industry from water to table; whether they catch or cultivate, process or distribute, import or export, their common goal is to foster the growth of sustainable fish and seafood production.

NFI has been supporting SAFS since 2016, focusing on Ray Hilborn’s Collaborative for Food from Our Oceans Data or “CFOOD” project, which concentrates on emerging fisheries science and research on sustainability. CFOOD is also building a network of experts who can address concerns presented in the media about the fishing industry. After only four years of support to the School, NFI achieved UW’s Laureate status, which recognizes individuals and organizations who reach $1 million in cumulative and planned giving.

John Connelly, the President of NFI since 2003, has helped oversee the organization’s generosity to SAFS. Below are excerpts from a digital conversation that Danna Bowers (Advancement, College of the Environment) and John had recently.

John Connelly, President of NFI

What excites you about the work SAFS students, faculty, and staff do?

John Connelly (JC): Many countries share the proverbial “gold medal” for management of marine resources and science-based fisheries management. When science informs seafood policy and business decisions, there are positive outcomes socially, economically, and environmentally. SAFS researchers assemble global fisheries data and analyze these data in new and innovative ways. SAFS faculty, students, and staff then take it a step further—they communicate their findings to other scientists and to the public, supporting responsible management decision making.

Why have you chosen to be so generous to SAFS?

JC: Ensuring a sustainable seafood supply chain is critical for supporting the livelihood of future generations and requires healthy ecosystems. That’s why NFI, our global peers, and so many companies are committed to science-based sustainability efforts. And, SAFS is recognized around the world as a premiere institution in fisheries science.

Do you remember what prompted your first gift to SAFS?

JC: After seeing Ray Hilborn present at conferences, it became clear that his expertise as a fisheries scientist and the research being done at SAFS were unparalleled. What really impressed us was how SAFS researchers challenge other scientists and then work collaboratively with them to uncover new facts and trends.

Sustainability is essential to the seafood community and supporting SAFS helps ensure they can conduct important, timely research to keep moving seafood sustainability forward.

How does the research being done at SAFS positively impact NFI’s efforts?

JC: Working with SAFS students and faculty has demonstrated to us how committed to achieving healthy fisheries they are. Their search for answers, which may be unexpected and challenging, is inspiring. SAFS scientists, often collaborating with researchers from around the world, provide research findings that inform important decision-making, which then impacts the future of fish stocks. These research findings also help NFI accurately communicate about sustainability. The search for truth continues!

Do you have a favorite memory or experience related to your support of SAFS?

JC: I have to be greedy and give you two. Seeing SAFS research cited twice in a New York Times piece about the impact that eating protein has on the environment was a clear indication of the value and influence of the work being done at the School. And, of course, It has been very rewarding to meet some of the staff and students and learn how our support has helped them dig deeper into problems and figure out new ways to communicate complex issues to a broad audience.

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