Bryan Fluech has joined the University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant as the new associate director over the units’ Brunswick facility. He recently made the move to Georgia from Naples, Florida, where he worked for University of Florida-Extension and Florida Sea Grant for nearly 10 years.

Fluech was hired at the University of Florida as fisheries extension agent and then later also became county extension director. In this role, he worked on recreational fisheries, catch and release programs and worked extensively with the stone crab commercial fishery.

“I love working for Sea Grant because I like the idea of working with multiple groups to address issues,” said Fluech.

In Florida, he partnered with several fish houses and crabbers. His team connected them with the community to promote their industry, educated consumers about seafood safety and worked to further tourism initiatives.

Fluech obtained his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Tennessee and a master’s degree in science education from the University of Florida with a focus on marine science. He has diverse professional experience with former roles that include middle school and high school teacher, interpreter, naturalist and bird trainer.

Fluech grew up in Atlanta and previously worked in Savannah, so he is no stranger to Georgia. He said that his passion for Sea Grant’s work and opportunities at UGA made this a smart decision for him and his family. He brought his wife Tammy and two kids, Jackson and Maggie, with him to Brunswick along with two dogs and a cat.

“UGA has had a very strong reputation for collaboratively working with industries and that was part of what appealed to me about coming here,” said Fluech. “You’ve got an organization with very dedicated people and that means a lot to me, and that’s why I’m in this career.”

He is excited to work with shrimpers in Georgia, an audience that he didn’t have an opportunity to work with often in Florida.

“These days, everyone wants to know more about their local food,” said Fluech. He is interested in helping fisheries become more resilient and financially successful while also minimizing their impact.

In the future, Fluech is interested in pursing doctoral work looking at the human dimensions of fisheries and seafood industries. He says that local fisheries face increasing challenges due to regulations, management changes and growing costs.

“When you look at what our industry is now compared to 20 or 30 years ago, it’s only a fragment, whether you’re talking about fish houses or the boats themselves,” said Fluech. “We need to think about who is going to be the next generation and ensure that we continue to have a vibrant local fishery.”

He is excited to get out in Georgia’s coastal waters and start interacting with the local fishing communities. Fluech said, “I have to get used to our tides here, that’s the biggest difference.”