Dr. John E. Graves

Click here

for more IGFA Fishing
Hall of Fame videos.

John E. Graves1953-
2016 Inductee

If you are an offshore angler, you can rest assured that Dr. John Graves’ research has had an impact on your fishing. As the Chancellor Professor of Marine Science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at the College of William & Mary- one of the top institutions on marine research in the world- Graves has been studying pelagic fish for over 30 years and is a leader in his field.

Graves grew up fishing in California and went to the University of California- San Diego with plans to be a pre-med student. Summer jobs at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and National Marine Fisheries Service fed his love of the ocean. On one fortuitous day, John caught a 50-pound white seabass and a 16-pound halibut. He promptly decided to forgo medical school and become a marine biologist. In 1989, he joined the team at VIMS, where he remains to this day.

Over the course of his career, John has authored over 90 peer reviewed papers, many dealing with recreational and commercially important fish species.  Before he worked for VIMS, Graves served as the Senior Scientist for the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission. Over the past two decades, he has been a source of expert knowledge in the fields of fisheries genetics and has extensive experience in fisheries management and policy-making, which is evident by his 20 year tenure of serving as the chair of the U.S. delegation to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).   He has also served as a long standing member of the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Billfish Advisory Panel and Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel.

In 2007, the IGFA honored Graves with the Individual Conservation Award for his groundbreaking research and management efforts in regards to billfish and tuna. Graves is a leader in the application of modern genetic techniques to billfish research.  His use of pop-up satellite tags in the catch-and-release marlin fishery has provided direct conservation benefits, showing that the use of circle hooks significantly reduces post-catch mortality as compared to traditional J- hooks. He is also actively involved in the Mid-Atlantic 500, one of the largest game-fishing tournaments on the East Coast of the United States, where he has helped to inspect the fish landed during the 25-year history of the event, and produces an annual report for tournament participants that highlights major changes in billfish management and recent scientific discoveries.

Among his many accolades, Graves has been recognized with the Thomas Ashley Graves, Jr. Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching, the Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence, Sport Fishing Magazine’s “Making a Difference” Award, and the NOAA Fisheries Service Special Recognition Award. For his leadership in game fish research and unwavering commitment to conservation, the IGFA celebrates Dr. John E. Graves.