Captain Jimmy Ruhle Honored Posthumously with New Cooperative Research Award

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council named Captain Jimmy Ruhle as the first recipient and namesake of a new award that recognizes outstanding contributions to cooperative fisheries research in the Mid-Atlantic region. His son, Captain Robert Ruhle, accepted the award on his father’s behalf during the Council’s meeting last week in Arlington, Virginia.

Jimmy Ruhle was a lifelong commercial fisherman, a former Council member, and a trailblazer in cooperative fisheries research. He had an instrumental role in the creation and success of the Northeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program (NEAMAP) Mid-Atlantic/Southern New England trawl survey, a cooperative fishery-independent survey of coastal waters from Cape Hatteras north to Cape Cod. Since 2007, the survey has been conducted biannually aboard Jimmy’s vessel, the F/V Darana R, by a team of Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) researchers working in partnership with Jimmy and his crew. Data from the survey have improved the assessments of several Council-managed species, including black sea bass, butterfish, longfin squid, scup, and summer flounder.

“The NEAMAP survey not only helps to fill gaps in survey data for nearshore waters, but it has also raised industry confidence in the data used for management decisions,” said Council Executive Director Chris Moore. “These successes would not have been possible without Jimmy’s passion, hard work, and long-term commitment to cooperative research.”

After Jimmy’s death in 2023, the Council decided to create a new award to honor his legacy. The James A. Ruhle Cooperative Research Award will be given to individuals or groups who have demonstrated exceptional collaboration, dedication, or innovation in their research, or in recognition of cooperative research projects that have made significant contributions to the understanding or management of Mid-Atlantic fisheries.

“Throughout his life, Jimmy demonstrated the powerful potential for cooperative research to improve fisheries science and management,” said Council Chair Wes Townsend. “This award symbolizes our recognition and gratitude for Jimmy’s tremendous contributions to cooperative research in our region.”

The award was presented to Jimmy’s son and current Council member, Robert Ruhle, during the February 2024 Council Meeting.