Dr. Russ Nelson, Former Director of Florida’s Marine Fisheries Commission

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Russell Nelson, a fishery scientist who led Florida’s Marine Fisheries Commission through a pivotal period, has died.

Nelson served as executive director of the Marine Fisheries Commission from 1987 to 2000. He then started his own consulting firm, advising sport fishing conservation organizations and federal agencies on ocean fisheries management and protection.

Nelson earned degrees from the University of North Carolina before taking a Ph.D. in zoology, fisheries ecology and statistics from North Carolina State University.

As director of Florida’s marine fisheries, Nelson guided Florida’s contentious transition after passage of the 1994 net ban, which imposed limits on the nets used by commercial fishermen. He was the author of numerous scientific papers about fish populations in the U.S. and abroad.

Nelson is survived by his second wife, Ellen Peel, two adult daughters, Rebecca and Kate, who grew up in Tallahassee; his mother and several siblings. A celebration of Nelson’s life will be held Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the International Game Fish Association headquarters in Dania, Florida.