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World Wildlife Fund mourns the loss of Phil Ruhle Sr., fishermen, innovator and advocate for ocean conservation.

World Wildlife Fund mourns the loss of Phil Ruhle Sr., fishermen, innovator and advocate for ocean conservation.

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On the evening of July 23 the fishing vessel Sea Breeze was lost at sea 50 miles off the coast of New Jersey. The vessel was skippered by Captain Phil Ruhle Sr., co-winner of WWF’s 2007 Smart Gear competition for his Rhode Island team's inspiring fishing gear design “The Eliminator”. Two crew members were rescued by the coast guard but it appears Phil Ruhle Sr. remained onboard as the vessel capsized and sank.

Phil Ruhle Sr. had been fishing for more than 40 years; his son is the fourth generation of fishermen in their family. In a recent interview Phil shared how the Rhode Island team came up with the fishing innovation that beat 70 other contenders from 22 countries. The winning design, a fishing net that reduces the incidental catch of marine species in the haddock bottom trawl fishery, is now being used in some European Union fisheries on a test basis, with good results.

WWF was honored to have the opportunity to work with Phil Ruhle Sr. when his team won the Smart Gear Award. We were deeply impressed by his enthusiasm and his commitment to ocean conservation. Our thoughts and best wishes are with Phil's family at this sad time

Read Phil's full interview link to Fishing/Smart Gear interview