Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to have maintained close ties with SAFS. In 1990, I graduated from SAFS with a PhD, and found a position with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in Seattle. This gave me the opportunity to witness the impact of SAFS on fisheries science throughout the world over the last 30 years.
As an employee of the Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Science Center in the 1980s, I was assigned to work with Kevin Bailey and Robert (Bob) Francis. What a wonderful pair of mentors those two were. I watched as they wrote proposals to develop integrated fisheries oceanographic research with Gordy Swartzman and Warren Wooster. In 1986, Bob left NMFS to serve as director of the Fisheries Research Institute within SAFS, a career change that unleashed his creative approach to fisheries science. The following year, Ray Hilborn joined SAFS, bringing new energy to the School. I recall how much fun these key people had working together. The work that they did, and the students they inspired, have left a lasting legacy.
The late 1980s and 1990s were exciting times to be a graduate student in fisheries science. Amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act were being considered, and when the Act was reauthorized in 1996, the precautionary principle was established as the foundation for sustainable fisheries management. Fisheries oceanography was also emerging as an interdisciplinary field that bridged applied science, oceanography, and marine ecology. The big three quantitative fisheries courses (557, 558, and 559) at SAFS were part of the curriculum, and we all spent long hours deriving equations. Although the coursework was challenging, this training provided us with the foundation needed to develop innovations in stock assessment and ecosystem modeling.
New partnerships were being formed between the NOAA and the UW to study fisheries oceanography. When I arrived, the Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigations (FOCI) program had been formed as a partnership between the NOAA and the UW. My major professor, Warren Wooster, sought to formally bridge the gap between fisheries policy, fisheries management, fisheries science, meteorology, and oceanography He worked with Karl Banse (Oceanography), Bob Francis, and Don Gunderson to develop an interdisciplinary seminar course. Many of us can trace the origins of our thesis projects to that seminar series. The interdisciplinary collaborations encouraged by the UW led to renewed partnerships among the three schools that resulted in important discoveries about the role of climate variability on marine fish stocks.
The professors of today share that same integrative, collaborative view of fisheries science. While many of the faces have changed, the energy remains. It is heartening to realize that the interdisciplinary approach to scientific investigation within SAFS continues to prepare young scientists to address some of the most challenging ecological and social questions of our time. The partnerships between SAFS and NOAA continue to benefit natural resources, each organization, and the public. It is joy to still be a part of it.
Collectively, SAFS professors, students, and graduates form a knowledge network that extends all over the world. You can find us working with our international research partners or fostering scientific exchange through leadership within international marine science organizations. In my class alone, my classmates now work in Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America. As the next generation of graduate students endeavors to assess human impacts within the social-ecological marine system, I expect that SAFS will play a key role in preparing them to tackle the complex questions facing the future.