Eddie Toomer from Florida, USA was awarded the Gladding Memorial Award in 2013, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to sustainable management of fisheries and marine resources in the Gulf and Caribbean Region.
Eddie Toomer was born on March 9, 1945 in the Norfolk Naval Hospital while his father was a Chief Machinist Mate in the USN stationed in Hawaii. His earliest memories were formed on the waterfront in Thunderbolt ̧ Georgia where his dad, E.J. “Pete” Toomer, worked for his father Earl Toomer. Pete provided the mechanical repairs for his father’s fleet of boats and saved his money to buy his first shrimp boat
In 1949, Eddie’s family left the limited harvests of the Atlantic shores of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in order to pursue the“Pink Gold” in the Gulf of Mexico; then migrated with shrimping seasons from Key West Florida, to Freeport, Texas! His parents ultimately established a fleet of a dozen trawlers, a packing house,anda floating dry dock. By 1975 Eddie had designed and fabricated a fifty-seven foot steel hull trawler, which he equipped with traps for crawfishing, and nets for shrimping before adding gear for long line fishing. He sold his small steel hull in 1978 and purchased a sixty-eight foot trawler, which he leased to National Marine Fisheries in an effort to develop what became known as the turtle excluder device (TED). By 1980, Eddie had created the design for the device that was adopted and required on all shrimp trawlers for excluding marine by-catch. He has been an ardent conservationist all his life, as he does not support overfishing for any species and is adamant about conservation laws being enforced to the fullest