Centennial Story 30: Loh-Lee Low (BS, 1970; MS, 1972; PhD, 1974)

I started as a freshman at the College of Fisheries in the fall of 1968. I was very fortunate to have been awarded a Malaysian Government scholarship to study Fisheries in the United States when I graduated from High School in Malaysia. The scholarship was the blessing that molded my life. I knew I had to succeed. So I studied. I fast-tracked myself to earn three degrees at the University of Washington and managed to graduate summa cum laude in 1970. There were many mentors at the University of Washington to whom I will eternally be indebted—Dean Van Cleve, who accepted me into the College of Fisheries; Ole Mathisen, who took me under his wing for my MS degree on sockeye salmon at Lake Iliamna; Jerry Paulik, Douglas Chapman, and Robert Burgner, and UW Affiliate Professor Dayton Lee Alverson, who all guided my PhD program on groundfish stock assessments of the Bering Sea. The University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences is the only program that educated me and shaped my career. Everything I know about fisheries and the oceans started there.

Loh-Lee Low

Lee Alverson gave me the next biggest break in my life. He gave me a job at the then Northwest Fisheries Science Center after my PhD in 1974. That was the time just before the passage of the Fishery Management and Conservation Act in 1977. Stock assessments were my main assignments with the United States Government. My UW education drew me into two main issues—high seas salmon issues of the International North Pacific Fisheries Commission (INPFC) and groundfish stock assessments in the Bering Sea. I was always been a background stock analyst and liaison science person for fishery managers. I stayed as low in profile as I could despite becoming a Fishery Management Plan Leader for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council on Bering Sea groundfish for more than 25 years. I am proud to have helped design the 2 million metric ton optimum yield system that has sustained almost 40 years of fishing near that optimum yield for Alaska.

I was fortunate to have been drawn into a broader array of North Pacific fisheries issues. I served as a sustained science representative and advisor at the INPFC and its successor organization, the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC); the Convention of Conservation and Management of Pollock Resources in the Central Bering Sea; the International Pacific Commission; the North Pacific Fisheries Commission; the U.S.–Russia Inter-Governmental Consultative Committee; the U.S.–Republic of Korea Memorandum of Agreement on marine science and technology; and numerous United States’ bilateral discussions with Japan, the Republic of Korea, Vietnam, and China. I was always a support person and prepared the science background reports for the United States

I am so lucky to have served the United States Government. I retired in September 2016, and the NPAFC awarded me the NPAFSC annual award in 2017. One more thing: I am honored to have been an affiliate assistant professor at the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences on its then High Seas Salmon program. Best wishes for the continued success of the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences!


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