O’Keefe’s impressive 20-year career in fisheries science and management sparked at UMass Dartmouth’s SMAST and resulted in her recent promotion to a new position.
The New England Fishery Management Council announced Cate O’Keefe, Ph.D. '13 as its next Executive Director. Her appointment will be effective in mid-July, and she will replace retiring Thomas Nies, who served the Council for 26 years. Dedicated to preserving marine life and its relationship with mankind, O’Keefe will be responsible for supporting the Council’s fishery management and planning initiatives.
The New England Fishery Management Council is one of eight councils established by the federal government in 1976. Its primary mission is to conserve and manage marine resources off the coastal plains and boat docks of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. O’Keefe is already involved with the Council as the current vice chair of their Scientific and Statistical Committee, which informs the Council of scientific information and statistical facts to advance fishery management.
“I’m honored to have been selected as the next executive director,” said O’Keefe. A resident of South Dartmouth, she received her bachelor’s degree in biology and fisheries from Hampshire College and her master’s degree from Boston University’s graduate marine program in Woods Hole. She remained on the SouthCoast to earn her doctoral degree from UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST), home of profound marine science programs that allow students to dive deep into their oceanic passions.
“I’m truly excited to join the Council community,” she continued. Due to SMAST’s prime location in the heart of America’s most lucrative fishing port, she entered the workforce with ample experience to venture onto commercial fishing vessels and work on complex offshore survey projects. “I look forward to working collaboratively with Council staff and regional partners to support the New England Council and our region’s invaluable fishing industries.”
O’Keefe’s lengthy career and industry success promises to bring dynamic and detail-oriented elements to the Council’s range of operations. She spent four years as a marine science and policy analyst at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries before starting her own company, Fishery Applications Consulting Team. As a principal consultant, she provided technical, research, and facilitation services to offshore wind energy companies, fishing industry organizations, global consulting firms, and more.
However, O’Keefe never forgot her UMassD roots as a successful career blossomed before her, a special place in her heart for the institute that taught her how to thrive in the industry. While turning her own company into a hub for marine science matters, O’Keefe held several positions at UMassD’s SMAST and worked her way up the professional ladder, starting as a research assistant and becoming a member of adjunct faculty. She is also a current member of UMassD’s Alumni Association Board.
“Students are exposed to and encouraged to participate in the daily workings of all aspects of fisheries, while working with world-renowned fisheries scientists on the SMAST faculty,” O’Keefe said about her stellar learning experience at SMAST. “There is no equivalent fishery science program on the East Coast, and students who graduate from SMAST have a proven track record of success in the fisheries field.”