MEET OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Barbara Garrity-Blake, board chair, is a cultural anthropologist specializing in the people side of fisheries. She teaches Marine Fisheries Policy at Duke University Marine Lab, drawing from her experience as a former member of the state Marine Fisheries Commission and other boards and committees. Barbara is a co-founder of the Wild Caught Local Seafood & Music Festival in Gloucester, N.C. She, along with Susan West, also co-founded
Raising the Story.
The blog shares stories in support of community-supported, sustainably caught North Carolina seafood.
Jess Hawkins, vice-chair,
grew up exploring Pamlico River near Bath, N.C. Working for 30 years at the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, Jess studied the ecology of marine creatures and recommended measures to protect them. He has won the N.C. Governor's Award for Wildlife Conservationist of the Year and Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian award for public service presented by the governor. He teaches all things fisheries aboard Crystal Coast Ecotours
in Carteret County.
Mark Hooper, commercial fisherman,
is a tireless volunteer working to protect our coast’s environment and fishing heritage while bringing you amazing seafood at Hooper Family Seafood in Smyrna, N.C. Mark has served many years with NC Catch and has been a vocal advocate of North Carolina's seafood industry at public meetings and events.
Vicki Basnight, commercial fisherman,
fishes the Outer Banks and helps manage her family's famous
Basnight’s Lone Cedar Café
in Nags Head. The menu names commercial fishermen who supply the catch. Vicki runs her own soft-shell crab shedding operation at the restaurant. The Basnight family has long been devoted to preserving North Carolina’s coastal water quality and commercial fishing heritage. Vicki’s father, the late N.C. Senator Pro Tempore Marc Basnight, dedicated his life to community service. Basnight’s opened in 1996 to draw attention to N.C. seafood and the families who supply it.
Nathan King, retail/wholesale seafood market owner & commercial fisherman,
co-owns Seaview Crab Company,
which in 2023 was named a Business North Carolina magazine Small Business of the year. Nathan is one of three founders who started as crab potters selling their catch from roadside stands. Nathan, who holds an ocean engineering degree from Virginia Tech, not only helped create one of the state's best seafood markets, with locations in and around Wilmington, N.C., he is an important voice in state's seafood industry and a seafood marketing innovator.
Jimmy Johnson, coastal habitats coordinator,
works closely with efforts to implement and educate the public about North Carolina’s Coastal Habitat Protection Plan
and the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership.
A longtime Albemarle-Pamlico region resident, Jimmy owned and operated Washington Crab Company in Washington, N.C., for 15 years. From 1998 to 2005, he served as chairman of the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission.
Ryan Speckman, retail seafood market owner, holds a degree in fisheries science and co-owns and co-founded Locals Seafood
based in Durham, with outlets at Triangle-area farmers markets including Raleigh, Cary and Chapel Hill. Locals Seafood was established in 2010 with the mission of bringing North Carolina seafood to inland North Carolina residents.
Tyrone Hightower, retail seafood market owner,
Apex Seafood & Market
and grew up freshwater fishing in Warren County, N.C. After earning a degree in animal science, he worked as a veterinary assistant/technician doing everything from emergency care to exotic animal medicine, including sea turtles. Along the way, Tyrone talked to many people who wanted fresh, local seafood but didn't want to travel all the way to the coast to get it. With a deep understanding of aquatic species, their nutritional value and how to determine superior seafood quality, Tyrone decided to start his market.
Ken Riley, N.C. Seafood Festival. As a member and previous chair of the festival board, Ken works tirelessly to make local seafood and the N.C. commercial fishing industry central to the
nation's largest seafood festival.
Visit a fisherman’s village, tour a shrimp trawler, attend the blessing of the fleet and savor local catch at the event, along Morehead City's historic working waterfront. Ken also helps grow communities that support commercial fishing and aquaculture. A NOAA science advisor, he is formally trained in aquaculture and fisheries with a masters degree from Louisiana State University and a doctorate from East Carolina University.
Micah Daniels, retail/wholesale seafood market owner and commercial fisherman, has appeared on National Geographic’s “Wicked Tuna.” She and her husband run
Fresh Catch Seafood
in Wanchese, N.C. Micah comes from a family whose fish houses date to 1936. She has worked in the seafood business since she was a kid. Micah stays busy but still finds time to teach people what it’s really like to be a commercial fisherman. She is among the strongest, proudest voices for preserving N.C.’s commercial fishing heritage. “If you don’t say something,” Micah says, “you’re soon not going to have anything to say something for.”
Sharon Peele Kennedy, seafood chef and cookbook author. North Carolina seafood cookery is guided by the mantra “let the seafood’s flavor shine,” and few know these historic, straightforward recipes better than Sharon. Hatteras chowder, roasted oysters, red drum baked simply with potatoes and onions. This Hatteras native, daughter of a commercial fisherman and an enduring voice for preserving the fishing way of life lives every recipe and records favorites in her cookbook “What’s For Supper.”
When you’re around OBX, listen to Sharon cooking live Friday afternoons on Beach 104 - WCXL-FM and BIG 94.5 WCMS.
Jason Hall, retail/wholesale seafood market owner.
Stephen Spruill, commercial fisherman,
grew up on a farm on Bulls Bay in Tyrell, N.C., but his heart was in fishing. By the time he was 16, he never looked back. “When everybody went back to school in the fall, I wanted to go to Manns Harbor to crab. I ended up working as a mate on a couple of boats down there until I was comfortable enough to crab with my own rig down there.” Today Stephen runs Bay Brothers Seafood
in Plymouth, N.C.
John Aydlett, N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services,
is a non-voting NC Catch board member who advises our organization on seafood marketing. As North Carolina's
Got To Be NC Seafood
marketing specialist, John works with both seafood and aquaculture producers to help them market their products. You’ll see John at festivals, trade shows, networking with producers and distributing local seafood marketing materials to grocers and seafood retailers.
Glenn Skinner, executive director of the N.C. Fisheries Association. As a non-voting member of the NC Catch board, Glenn advises our organization on upcoming fisheries policy and legislation. Working in fishing since he was just 3 years old, Glenn hails from a long line of commercial fishermen. Based in Morehead City, N.C., Glenn is a hard-working advocate for North Carolina's commercial fishing families. His updates and news posts at ncfish.org are invaluable to anyone who wants to understand how to keep local seafood on the table.