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Ohio Sea Grant College Program
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Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory

Kelch Retires From Ohio Sea Grant After 32 Years


Article By: Matthew Forte, Published: May 10, 2012

ELYRIA, OH—Lake Erie fishermen, divers, and boaters owe a lot of thanks to Dave Kelch, who will retire at the end of May after 32 years as an Ohio Sea Grant Extension Specialist based in Lorain County. Over his Sea Grant career, Dave has helped enhance people’s understanding of and experience on the lake, educating the public about the science behind the outdoor pursuits that he himself has enjoyed since childhood.


He led the design and construction of artificial reefs that drew fish, anglers, and divers to Lake Erie’s Central Basin and he was instrumental in beginning the Ohio Clean Marinas Program.


“Dave has been a major asset to our program and all Lake Erie users have benefited from his hard work and commitment,” says Ohio Sea Grant Director Jeff Reutter. “Because of his efforts to lead the development of 10 artificial reefs, they will continue to benefit in perpetuity.”


When anglers said that it would be nice to have fish congregate in specific areas within Lake Erie’s large Central Basin, Dave worked with several agencies and, funded by fishing clubs along the coast, the City of Cleveland, and the Cuyahoga County Commissioners, led the construction of reefs made of clean concrete, rock, and brick rubble near Lorain and Cleveland. The reefs attract a whopping 60 times more fish than non-reef locations pay for themselves 2.75 times annually.


Dave took up the baton of aquatic invasive species and has been teaching people about the harmful effects of introducing non-native species to Ohio waters and how to prevent their spread. He was instrumental in developing the Ohio Clean Marinas Program (, which has seen 38 marinas volunteer to follow strict environmental protection practices.


Dave expects retirement to bring more free time to spend with his wife, Maggie, a fellow diver. He plans to divide his time among working in their apple orchard, hunting, and fishing on Lake Erie.


“Dave is a good educator because of his ability to explain the information in a way that the everyday citizen can understand,” says Bud Kaczor, a member of Dave’s Advisory Committee. “Some of the science relating to the biology and fisheries can get awfully complicated; he’s able to explain the importance of these topics to the general public.”


Ohio Sea Grant is planning a reception for him on Tuesday, June 5, at Black River Landings from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Along with refreshments, it will be a time for people to thank and congratulate Dave and offer some reflections on his career.


Please RSVP to John Tripp at by May 28.

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