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Presidential Award of Excellence

Ken La Valley

La Valley

Associate Director, New Hampshire Sea Grant;

Program Leader, Cooperative Extension - Water Resources & Community Dev. Program;

Associate Extension Professor, Biological Sciences

Ken La Valley wants you to know more about the fish that thrive off New Hampshire’s seacoast, and the historic industry that relies on them. And if it takes a little butter, bread crumbs, and a skillet to ease the introduction, well, all the better.

La Valley is a New Hampshire Sea Grant Extension professor of biological sciences and a commercial fisheries and aquaculture specialist. Recently named associate director at Sea Grant, he has a passion for promoting research and creating collaborations to support the region’s fishing industry.

So La Valley works tirelessly to develop innovative links between UNH researchers, New Hampshire fishermen, and consumers. One result: It’s far easier now to find locally- and sustainably-caught seafood in the region’s grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and restaurants. You might even recognize the “New Hampshire Fresh and Local” label on the next pound of haddock, bluefish, or shrimp you buy.

“I’m passionate for the research and work that is bringing locally- and sustainably-caught fish to the end-user,” La Valley says.

La Valley brings a rare blend of industry experience, scholarship, field research, and public policy insights to the field. Before joining UNH in 2004, he worked for 11 years at Spinney Creek Shellfish in Eliot, Maine, where he was director of research and development (and not above cleaning out shellfish holding tanks, or loading crates onto trucks).

He now works with the Northeast Consortium, created by UNH in 1999 to encourage partnerships that span from research lab to fishing boat to dinner plate. Their efforts are helping to develop local seafood markets, reduce unwanted “by-catch,” promote safer fishing, and clean up ocean debris. La Valley is also assisting the Yankee Fisherman’s Cooperative in building a new fish processing plant in Seabrook.

“Over the last decade, especially with the Northeast Consortium, we’ve really seen a shift in how the fishing industry is viewed,” La Valley says. “The industry here is really seen more as collaborators now, bringing their expertise on the water and their historical knowledge to the table of science.”

-- Jim Graham
-- photo by Mike Ross