Eric Anderson Receives 2018 Melissa Laser Fish Habitat Conservation Award

November 2, 2018


New York, New York – The Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership (ACFHP) proudly presented Eric Anderson of Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management its 2018 Melissa Laser Habitat Conservation Award at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (Commission) 77th Annual Meeting in New York, New York on October 22nd.


Mr. Anderson has led the design and management of at least 10 large scale restoration projects in the Lake Worth Lagoon, Palm Beach County, Florida. The lagoon is situated in a highly urban coastal environment, creating unique challenges that Eric expertly addresses. Eric’s work has focused on restoration of ACFHP priority mangrove and seagrass habitats by creating in-water habitat islands. The Grassy Flats project, endorsed by ACFHP in 2012, exemplifies Eric’s talents in managing all the challenges of a successful restoration project. Grassy Flats is a 12-acre, $3.7 million seagrass, mangrove, oyster, tidal marsh restoration project that included multiple partners and grants. This project employed innovative construction methods, including a “sand-shooter” and beneficial re-use of sediments. Monitoring of fish, wildlife and vegetation two years after the completion of the project, show it is successfully providing habitat and being utilized by native wildlife. ACFHP endorsed this project based on its support of the Partnership’s restoration objectives and lagoon-wide long-term water quality benefits. The project has proved to be resilient and withstood the impacts of Hurricane Irma in 2017. Eric is currently developing two large-scale projects that will create additional mangrove and seagrass habitats.


Eric is a valued restoration partner who targets and fulfills ACFHP conservation goals, and finds innovative means to gain support, fund, and implement beneficial fish habitat projects. He also generously shares his skills and experiences with other practitioners. Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management has earned a reputation of excellence for estuarine restoration work, which is largely due to Eric’s hard work and dedication.

The Melissa Laser Fish Habitat Conservation Award is bestowed upon individuals deemed to further the conservation, protection, restoration, and enhancement of habitat for native Atlantic coastal, estuarine-dependent, and diadromous fishes in a unique or extraordinary manner. The award was established in memory of Dr. Melissa Laser who passed away unexpectedly on April 27, 2010. Melissa was a biologist with the Maine Department of Marine Resources where she worked tirelessly to protect, improve, and restore aquatic ecosystems in Maine and along the entire Atlantic coast. As an astute strategic thinker and leader, Melissa edited and coordinated the Strategic and Operational Plan for the Restoration of Diadromous and Resident Fishes to the Penobscot River. She coordinated fish passage projects, managed and oversaw the biological field staff for the Maine Western Region, and was the Bureau of Sea Run Fisheries and Habitat Program lead for habitat restoration studies and projects. She was also an effective champion for Atlantic salmon, directing and coordinating Endangered Species Act-related actions pertaining to the species. Melissa brought her smiling dedication and enthusiasm to the Commission’s Habitat Committee and ACFHP’s Steering Committee.


Mr. Pat Keliher, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Vice Chair and Dr. Laser’s former boss, presented the award. For more information, please contact Dr. Lisa Havel, ACFHP Coordinator, at or 703.842.0740.


Pat Keliher, ASMFC Vice Chair, presents the 2018 Melissa Laser Fish Habitat Conservation Award to Eric Anderson. Photo credit: T. Berger, ASMFC.