Cetacean Society International

Whales Alive! - Vol. IX No. 4 - October 2000


Changes at the Marine Mammal Commission

By William Rossiter, CSI President


The Marine Mammal Commission is a unique entity in the U.S. government. Charged with almost impossible responsibilities, mandated to negotiate and influence, yet always threatened with budget constraints, the Commission acts like an ombudsman for marine mammals. Even under extraordinary pressures the Commission has maintained a positive, objective, disciplined and wise influence on marine mammal affairs. CSI is most grateful for the special people of the Commission; all are characterized by honesty, credibility, openness and accessibility, a standard that has served marine mammals well. We look forward to that relationship continuing even as two wonderful people retire:

John Russell Twiss, Jr., has retired as Executive Director of the Marine Mammal Commission, a position he has held so ably since 1974. His prior experience began at Yale, extended to research in Antarctica, the Southern Ocean, and the International Decade of Ocean Exploration. His achievements during his time with the Commission could fill several pages of this newsletter. Editor, along with Dr. Randall R. Reeves of Conservation and Management of Marine Mammals, Smithsonian Institution Press, 471 pages, 1999, John's lasting accomplishments, awards and medals include Mount Twiss in Antarctica, named in his honor.

Robert J. Hofman, Ph.D., retired in June after having served 25 years as Scientific Program Director of the Marine Mammal Commission. Bob has been a Navy sonar man, a high school science teacher, and a professional scientist. He was a member of the U.S. delegations that negotiated the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (1978-1981) and the Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty on Environmental Protection (1989-1991), and was the first U.S. representative to the Scientific Committee for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and the Antarctic Treaty Committee for Environmental Protection. His focus has included the Unusual Marine Mammal Mortality Working Group, established to assess catastrophic events, tuna / dolphin issues, several workshops on a broad range of issues, and most recently was the Commission's representative on the Interagency Coordinating Group on Ocean Noise.

The new Executive Director of the Marine Mammal Commission is Robert H. Mattlin, Ph.D. In his three years with the Commission Rob has been Deputy Scientific Program Director and more recently Deputy Executive Director. Prior to that, he worked for 13 years as a research scientist for the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, and for four years as an independent research contractor in New Zealand. Rob received his Ph.D. from the University of Canterbury, Christchurch NZ, his M.S. from the University of West Florida, Pensacola, and his B.S. from Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff.

Timothy J. Ragen, Ph.D., has just been appointed as the Commission's Scientific Program Director, effective early in November. Tim currently is a resource management specialist with the National Marine Fisheries Service's Alaska Region and has been working in Juneau as the Steller sea lion recovery coordinator. Prior to that, he was with NMFS in Hawaii working on Hawaiian monk seal issues. He has a Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of California in San Diego, his M.A. in physical therapy from Stanford University, and a B.S. in pre-physical therapy from the University of Montana.

For more details on this special U.S. institution contact: Marine Mammal Commission, 4340 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20418 USA, Phone: 301-504-0087, Fax: 301-504-0099.


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