Career Spotlight David J. White (JD 86), Regional Director, The Ocean Conservancy, St. Petersburg
As a graduate student in wildlife ecology at the University of Florida in the early ’80s, David White soon realized that natural resources management was based more on politics and economics than sound science and a solid understanding of how natural systems function. His growing awareness that changes would have to be put in place at the policy level to protect the natural world led him back to UF to pursue a law degree.
“I wanted to be an advocate for sustainable management of wildlife and their habitats,” White said. “It’s about the sustainable use of natural resources and ensuring that we bequeath to our children a world we would want to inhabit.”
After finishing law school and working as a public interest environmental lawyer for 15 years, White took on his present role as director of The Ocean Conservancy’s South Atlantic office in 2000. As a director, White advocates for expanded use of marine zoning and ecosystem-based management in Florida, the Southeast Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.
The conservancy’s goal in the area is sustainable management of marine wildlife populations and conservation of important marine ecosystems such as coral reefs, fish spawning areas, estuaries and other nearshore coastal habitats.
Despite considerable obstacles, White has helped put several protective policies in place, including a 2001 action that created the largest, fully protected marine ecological reserve in North America in the Dry Tortugas, 70 miles west of Key West.