Fisheries Extension Specialist | 252-475-5488

Focus Areas: Coastal community development, collaborative processes, cooperative research, marine fisheries management, seafood marketing, working waterfronts

Sara Mirabilio

Sara Mirabilio. Photo by John McCord/Coastal Studies Institute

Sara Mirabilio is a fisheries extension specialist whose work includes cooperative research with, and providing technical training to, North Carolina’s commercial, for-hire and recreational fishermen. She received the Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award Program’s Natural Resources Scientist of the Year Award in 2011 for her research with industry to test a modified turtle excluder device in the summer flounder winter ocean trawl fishery. In 2015, Mirabilio received the N.C. Coastal Federation’s Pelican Award for “enthusiastic and inspired leadership with coastal restoration initiatives.”

For more than 10 years, Mirabilio has assisted commercial fishermen and seafood distributors employ market research tools to deliver seafood products desired by consumers. Most recently, she teamed up with colleagues Barry Nash and Scott Baker to create North Carolina market opportunities for spiny dogfish, or cape shark, by assisting industry and restaurant partners in developing high-quality and novel products that resonate with North Carolina consumers’ palates.

Mirabilio’s ongoing work also includes helping North Carolina stakeholders shape state and federal marine fisheries management policies that affect their livelihoods. She contributed to design of the N.C. Marine Fisheries Mediation Program to help disputing marine fishing stakeholders craft settlements in a way that achieves lasting resolutions that are amenable to all parties. Until 2015, she was an instructor for North Carolina State University’s Natural Resources Leadership Institute, or NRLI, on natural resource collaborative processes, particularly those that result in greater trust among user groups and in use of  scientific and traditional ecological knowledge in fishery policy development. Mirabilio is a 2005 graduate of the NRLI program.

Mirabilio currently serves as vice chair for both the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s Citizen Science Program Volunteers Action Team and the N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island’s Advisory Committee. She also is a member of the executive committee for the Tidewater Chapter of the American Fisheries Society.

Mirabilio holds a master’s degree in marine science from the College of William and Mary’s School of Marine Science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and a bachelor’s degree in marine science  from Long Island University’s Southampton College, where she graduated summa cum laude and with honors. Prior to joining North Carolina Sea Grant in 2003, Mirabilio served as a John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant Office, and following this, was a program analyst for the NOAA Ocean Service’s Chief Scientist.

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