Not many people get a park named after them. It says a lot about a person’s character and impact to have that happen. On a sunny Saturday in July, it happened for NOAA Fisheries’ former Special Agent Christopher “Schotzy” Schoppmeyer. His community and those that loved him gathered to dedicate the Schoppmeyer Memorial Park, located at 10 North Main Street in Newmarket, NH. The park features granite benches, a flower garden, and will soon have a seasonal dock for fishing and boating.
It’s been about two and half years now since Chris passed away from an aggressive cancer. With a passion for safeguarding the environment, Chris’ career in law enforcement spanned more than 35 years. He worked for several state and federal environmental law enforcement agencies, including the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and finally serving as a Special Agent for 27 years with NOAA Fisheries’ Northeast Office of Law Enforcement.
For NOAA Fisheries, Chris enforced laws that conserve and protect our nation’s marine resources and their natural habitat. He helped ensure a level playing field for honest fishermen, defended U.S. economic and public health interests from illegal international and domestic fishing activities, and protected vulnerable marine species to ensure their sustainability. And he did so always with consummate decency, dignity, and civility.
His friend and NOAA Fisheries’ colleague Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Henry said, “For 15 years, I witnessed first-hand the tremendous dedication and passion Chris had for conservation law enforcement. His relentless pursuit of justice for crimes against our marine resources was unmatched. Whether Chris was chasing bluefin tuna poachers, tracking down unsafe shellfish harvesters or saving the whales, Chris always maintained the highest levels of professionalism and integrity. To Chris, the job was a lifestyle, a privilege, and a duty. Chris took that duty very seriously and did whatever it took to complete the mission.”
Both in and out of work, Chris gave his all to help people. He supported his fellow law enforcement officers by serving as Vice President of Agency Affairs for the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), even throughout his fierce battle with pancreatic cancer. In tribute, FLEOA is training a young police dog to serve in the Northeast. His name? Schotzy.
Chris gave back to his New Hampshire community in numerous ways, including co-founding the Newmarket Fishing Derby, chairing the Newmarket Conservation Commission, and participating in the Newmarket School to Career Program. And while Chris was a dedicated conservation officer, he was equally dedicated to his wife Terri, his children Erin and Travis, and his grandchildren Violet and Jakoby. Chris enhanced many lives and his selflessness and caring are evident when you talk with anyone who knew him. NOAA Fisheries’ Special Agent Ross Lane notes, “There is a quote on the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. that reads, ‘It is not how these officers died but how they lived,' which makes me smile and think of what a wonderful person Chris Schoppmeyer was.”
Here at NOAA Fisheries, our hearts remain heavy and our thoughts forever sad when we think of his early passing. However, we are lifted by memories of his boundless compassion for all living creatures and his deep commitment to doing whatever it took to protect them. We are honored and privileged to have known someone as noble and principled as Chris, and he is sorely missed throughout our ranks.