Saturday, 21 October 2017 13:30

New York Great Lakes Fisheries Specialist Dave MacNeill Receives National Award

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David B. MacNeill, 2017 William Q. Wick Visionary Career Leadership Award honoree. David B. MacNeill, 2017 William Q. Wick Visionary Career Leadership Award honoree. NY Sea Grant photo

David B. MacNeill of Syracuse, NY, was awarded the 2017 William Q. Wick Visionary Career Leadership Award presented by the National Sea Grant Extension Assembly at its biennial meeting in Oregon earlier this month. The Wick award is the highest honor given to Sea Grant Extension personnel by their peers. MacNeill was selected for the honor from among the 571 Sea Grant Extension professionals serving across the United States.

MacNeill served 28 years as the Great Lakes Fisheries and Ecosystem Health Specialist with New York Sea Grant Extension, based at SUNY Oswego. Research, extension and outreach work by MacNeill, who retired in August 2017, has advanced the communication to and understanding of Great Lakes science by diverse audiences. His projects focused on improving fish trawl methods and data collection, alerting Great Lakes anglers and fisheries managers to the next likely aquatic invasive species, climate change science, and how dog owners can protect their pets from harmful algal bloom toxins.

‘The work Dave MacNeill championed has proved to be visionary, practical, and trusted not only in the Great Lakes region but internationally,’ said New York Sea Grant Associate Director Katherine Bunting-Howarth.

Highlights of the impact of the work by MacNeill include research and outreach into fish trawl methods that led to changes in how personnel on each of the Great Lakes scientifically sample fish and has improved stakeholder understanding of the data collected by trawling. His trawl design outreach information was utilized by the University of Southern Bohemia in the Czech Republic to build a new trawling vessel and gear now being used to sample on inland lakes in the European Union.

A report written by MacNeill in 2005 after assembling a panel of world-renown fisheries experts on Lake Ontario fish stocking issues is a constant reference for resource managers in New York State and, in the past three years, has helped improve Lake Ontario forage fish trawling efforts, which now take into account sampling in Canadian waters as recommended by that report.

Anglers and fisheries managers are more alert to the next generation of aquatic invasive species to watch for across the Great Lakes Basin thanks to programming developed by MacNeill.

In 2010, MacNeill and Dr. Paul Bowser of Cornell University received the first Sea Grant Association Research to Application award from the National Sea Grant Office for their research and outreach, particularly to commercial aquaculture business owners, on viral hemorrhagic septicemia, a deadly infectious fish disease.

MacNeill championed opportunities to enhance how educators communicate about the uncertainties associated with the natural environment.  His programming on climate change science was the first training for all land grant and Sea Grant extension educators at Cornell University and was requested as a training for National Weather Service employees.

The Dogs and HABs publication written by MacNeill in 2014 on how pet owners can protect their dogs from toxins associated with HABs, harmful algal blooms, remains in high demand and was stocked at selected New York State Parks this past summer. Ducks Unlimited magazine shared this educational message nationwide.

MacNeill received the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network Outstanding Program Award in 1990, 1992 and 1998; the Sea Grant Advisory Service Award of Excellence in 1993; the Northeast Extension Directors Award of Excellence in 1995; and the Great Lakes Sea Grant network Superior Outreach Award in 2012.

New York Sea Grant maintains Great Lakes offices at SUNY Buffalo, Wayne County Cooperative Extension in Newark, and SUNY Oswego. For updates on New York Sea Grant activities, the Web site has RSS, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube links.

The Oswego Great Lakes office is located at SUNY Oswego Penfield Hall. For more information, contact New York Sea Grant at 315-312-3042, [email protected]

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