BILOXI -- The head of the Department of Marine Resources fisheries division is retiring later this fall.
Dale Diaz, 51, has been director of the Office of Marine Fisheries, which has 47 employees, since February 2007. He has worked for DMR more than 26 years, starting as a marine patrol officer. He advanced to lieutenant in the patrol before he moved Marine Fisheries as a biologist in the shellfish bureau.
"The best thing about working at Marine Resources is you get to work in a job where you're protecting the resources," he said. "And you get to help people along the way. And I think that's what I enjoyed the most."
Diaz said he plans to just take some time off but will probably get back in the workforce eventually.
"Hopefully, I'll do something to work toward making our marine resources better in the future," he said.
He said he first began thinking about retiring when he reached 25 years, the minimum for retirement from a state job.
"I wanted to stay here and make sure that before I left that DMR was on a good path," he said. "And I do feel like we're there now. I'm excited about the things the new director, Director (Jamie) Miller has done. I feel like he's got us moving in a good direction. I wouldn't have left if I didn't."
His last day will be Oct. 31.