The Texas Sea Grant College Program recently welcomed a new Fisheries Specialist to its extension team.
Laura Picariello is headquartered at Texas Sea Grant’s office on the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMUCC) campus. In her new role, Picariello’s focus is on helping commercial and recreational fishermen understand and take advantage of the latest available fisheries technologies, and on research to develop and apply solutions to the common problems they face.
“I am so excited to be joining the amazing team of extension agents and specialists here at Texas Sea Grant,” she said. “I’m looking forward to working hands-on with the members of our coastal fishing industries to address current challenges and strengthen our fishing communities.”
Picariello has already begun working closely with the Texas shrimp fleet to help captains and crew members install and maintain federally mandated turtle excluder devices (TEDs) and bycatch reduction devices (BRDs), which are designed to reduce the accidental capture of non-target species. She continues Texas Sea Grant’s longstanding tradition of supporting both the Texas shrimp industry and marine conservation begun by Gary Graham, the state’s first-ever fisheries specialist, who recently retired from Texas Sea Grant after earning national and international recognition for his work over the course of his almost 50 years with the program.
Before coming to Texas Sea Grant, Picariello, who has a master’s degree in Marine Conservation and Policy, was Director of the Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.), a regional sustainable seafood program that supports fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico, where she worked to expand the program’s reach from Louisiana into Texas, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama. She also led the development and operation of the G.U.L.F. Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) certification program, a voluntary third-party certification to help Gulf fisheries demonstrate responsible fishing practices, and collaborated with Gulf fishermen, seafood distributors and fisheries managers to develop Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) to increase the sustainability and promotion of Gulf Seafood.
“Texas Sea Grant is really fortunate to bring on Ms. Picariello as our new Fisheries Specialist,” said Heather Wade, Texas Sea Grant’s Senior Associate Director for Planning and Extension. “Her professional experience in the Gulf of Mexico and passion for sustainable fisheries brings much value to our extension program. It is an exciting time for the Gulf of Mexico fisheries industries, and she will lead Texas Sea Grant in addressing their changing needs.”