Game warden honored by SAFMC for fisheries work

Photo by Kim Iverson/SAFMC

Each year, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) recognizes the importance of law enforcement in federal fisheries management by presenting the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award. This year, two nominees were selected to receive the award. Private First-Class Jason Dozier with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Game Warden First Class Matt Tsiklistas with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources were presented the 2022 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award during the Council’s September meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. The annual award is presented to individuals or teams that have exceeded their duty requirements, demonstrated a distinct pattern of service to enforcing fisheries regulations in the South Atlantic region, and exemplify the virtues of professionalism and dedication.

While the Georgia coastline may be a bit smaller compared to its neighbors, fisheries law enforcement remains a challenge. Game Warden First Class Matt Tsiklistas is familiar with these challenges, being assigned to McIntosh County, historically one of the busier commercial and recreational fisheries areas within the coastal area. Tsiklistas covers approximately 60 miles of Georgia’s 100-mile coastline, focusing on patrolling waterways as well as near shore and offshore waters. 

“Matt’s dedication to protecting our fisheries resources comes naturally to him,” said Capt. Chris Hodge, regional supervisor with DNR’s Law Enforcement Division. “He is an avid offshore angler and uses the network he has built over the years to aid our work unit. He shares information and ideas and is always willing to help his coworkers learn.” 

In 2022, Tsiklistas executed and participated in eighteen specific patrols that involved enforcement of snapper grouper regulations, right whale patrols, Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary patrols, shrimp trawler patrols, and seafood dealer inspections. He assisted with five joint enforcement cases with NOAA Fisheries involving over the limit and undersized fish, offshore crab trap/weak link violations (protecting right whales) and identifying descending device violations.