A sea change in leadership at Ecotrust

Later this month, there will be something of a sea change in our senior leadership.

Our Vice President of Fisheries Ed Backus, who has led various initiatives in his 23 years with the organization, is charting a new course as an independent consultant working on a variety of projects related to community fisheries and ocean management.

Ed Backus
Ed Backus

Ed and I have shared the better part of our careers together, first at The Nature Conservancy, then Conservation International before he joined me shortly after starting Ecotrust in 1991. His accomplishments are too many to list here, but include:

·        Launching Pacific GIS in 1993  to provide public access to emerging technologies in mapping and spatial planning—core capacities of Ecotrust that have grown into our Knowledge Systems program that today offers a wide range of analytical, software, and mapping tools and services.  In the early days,  this was one of the most robust GIS shops in the nation.

·         In 1998, Ed directed a joint program with Shorebank Enterprise Pacific (now Craft3) on Oregon’s south coast.

·         In 2000 Ed was named our Vice President for Fisheries and focused on community participation and ownership in fisheries management up and down the west coast.  This work has blossomed into the national Community Fisheries Network, soon to become an independent trade association working to increase the resilience of commercial fishing communities across the country.

·       In 2002, in partnership with the Wild Salmon Center, Ed started the State of the Salmon Project and continued a long standing commitment to Alaska’s Prince William Sound & Copper River basin. Later he also chaired the board of the Prince William Sound Science Center.

·         In 2005, Ed launched the North Pacific Fisheries Trust, a nonprofit subsidiary of Ecotrust that supports the efforts of coastal communities and local fishing families by providing financing for qualified buyers, community organizations, quota entities, and businesses that share and meet strong community equity, conservation, and economic development goals.

·       In 2010, Ed testified before Congress on the state of our Oceans and options for better fisheries management.

Today, building upon the work that Ed pioneered, Ecotrust is continuing to protect critical salmon watersheds across the bioregion, and has scaled some of our fisheries and marine programs into three distinct and successful initiatives of their own—Point 97, the North Pacific Fisheries Trust, and the Community Fisheries Network.

But Ed’s legacy is more than this incomplete but important list of accomplishments. Ed helped to define the culture and character of Ecotrust—believing that the best work happens from the ground up, by being a careful listener and taking the time to build deep long term relationships that lead to successful partnerships. Our staff of nearly seventy know and respect Ed for these inimitable qualities, his deep knowledge, expertise, and commitment to supporting the livelihoods of our coastal communities along with the health of our oceans.

Having recently made some transitions myself at Ecotrust, I understand Ed’s desire for new perspectives and working relationships.  I know too, that he will remain a close advisor, friend and partner. We send Ed with our sincerest thanks, greatest admiration, gratitude, and congratulations on this new chapter in his life.