Washington Fish Growers Association executive director Dan Swecker retires
By Aquaculture North America Staff
OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Washington Fish Growers Association (WFGA) has announced that longtime executive director Dan Swecker has retired from his position, effective Dec. 31, 2018.
Swecker, a salmon farming pioneer and former state senator from Rochester, Wash., will continue to advise the organization as director emeritus as it transitions to a new aquaculture advocacy organization – The Northwest Aquaculture Alliance (NWAA). The NWAA will represent the aquaculture industry from the Pacific Northwest region, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia.
Swecker, a pioneer in salmon farming in Washington, represented the 20th Legislative District as State Senator from 1995-2012. He served in the U.S. Army as a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War, where he was awarded a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and 25 air medals. He led WFGA for nearly three decades.
“Dan Swecker’s contribution to WFGA over the years has been immeasurable,” said WFGA board president John Dentler. “As a respected former senator with a reputation for finding solutions, Dan has led this organization through some very significant challenges. We are grateful to ‘Senator Dan’ for all that he has done to foster support for aquaculture at the state level. As we work to build a broader and stronger coalition, Dan will continue to help guide and advise us to achieve future success.”
Dentler said the WFGA Board has tapped aquaculture advocate and seafood industry veteran, Jeanne McKnight, to serve as interim executive director of the NWAA. McKnight, a former director of communications for the Global Aquaculture Alliance, spent 20 years advocating for the Chilean farmed salmon industry in the U.S., market and handled trade communications for an aquaculture organization in Vietnam. She started her new role on Jan. 1, 2019 and will work closely with Swecker during the transition.
McKnight said she welcomes the challenge of improving the public’s perception of aquaculture products as well as the industry itself. “Globally, aquaculture is an economic driver,” McKnight said. “There’s huge opportunity for our region to embrace this important industry and enjoy sustainably produced, locally grown fish and seafood alongside our wonderful wild seafood.” She added, “The acceptance of aquaculture is happening in other US regions as well as around the world. It can and should happen here.”