Rene Umberger, For The Fishes’s founder and current Executive Director, works full time to provide leadership to For The Fishes and to all elements of the organization’s activities. In 2010, she spearheaded the passage of two Maui County wildlife protection initiatives that established the strongest protections yet in Hawaii. For more than six years, she has served as a consultant to the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International on coral reef wildlife issues. A SCUBA instructor, Umberger understands intimately the risks to wildlife and coral habitats, having made over 10,000 dives throughout the Indo-Pacific.
In 2012, Umberger conceptualized Tank Watch, a creative mobile application to improve public awareness about the important differences between captive-bred and wild-caught fish in personal and public aquariums. She secured Aysling, a pro bono sponsor for the design and development costs of the app, valued at $30,000. Tank Watch came to life in September 2014 when it was launched for Apple. The Android version launched in 2016. To date, over 11,000 people have downloaded Tank Watch.
Working with Dr. Craig Downs of Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, Umberger has been assessing the prevalence of cyanide-caught fish in the U.S. MAT. This work is slated for publication in mid-2017.