April 24, 2022
West Palm Beach, Florida – Tom Twyford, the Executive Director of the West Palm Beach Fishing Club (Club) was presented the Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership’s (ACFHP) Melissa Laser Fish Habitat Conservation Award on November 16, 2022, at the Annual Lake Worth Lagoon Science Symposium in West Palm Beach, Florida. Tom accepted the award on behalf of his team of dedicated volunteers and staff members, who have partnered with Palm Beach County and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in their estuarine habitat conservation, innovation, and education efforts. Through Tom’s outstanding leadership, the Club has aided in projects that have resulted in the restoration of approximately 250 acres of mangrove, seagrass, and oyster reef habitat. Additionally, Tom has been one of Palm Beach County’s leading ambassadors of sport fishing and a pillar for the community. His education and outreach programs have connected thousands of people (of all ages) and introduced them to the wonders of the estuarine environment and the importance of habitat conservation and restoration.
Tom’s hard work and dedication exemplifies ACFHP’s mission of accelerating restoration of native estuarine habitats. His unrivalled passion and extensive knowledge have brought his community closer together and provided support to local, regional, and state-level conservation projects.
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.
For more information on the Melissa Laser Award, please visit: https://www.atlanticfishhabitat.org/ melissa-laser-fish-habitat-conservation-award/.