Centennial Story 49: Dean Adams (BS, 1994; MS, 1998)

My experience at SAFS in the 1990s was nothing short of magical. I returned to UW when my livelihood in Alaska—commercial fishing for halibut and sablefish—came under threat due to overcapitalization and severely reduced fishing seasons. I needed to diversify my talents and expand my capabilities by completing a bachelor’s degree.

I was an outlier and an older student. I was a veteran of Alaska longline fishing, as well as an experienced fisheries advocate. I remember smiling when I listened to my profs lecture: Ted Pietsch, Tom Quinn, David Armstrong, Ray Hilborn, Loveday Conquest, Don Gunderson et al.—I got to learn from the best in the field.

Dean and a Halibut
Dean and a Halibut

As an undergraduate, I contributed to the School by guest lecturing in Kane Hall to several hundred students in FISH 101, primarily arts and humanities majors, who knew FISH 101 as a “fun” science requirement class. I also presented to the School of Marine Affairs (now, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs) regarding fisheries “limited-entry” management, a dynamic and highly charged political issue in Alaska at the time.

I became part of the SAFS network. Julia Parrish and Ed Melvin asked me to review their research proposal concerning seabird bycatch mitigation. This opportunity morphed into a voyage onboard my fishing vessel—the QUEST—where Julia and Ed established protocols for a large study that tested seabird deterrent devices. I am very happy to have been associated with this project, which led to regulations requiring the use of mitigation devices in the North Pacific longline fisheries.

If I had to pick my highlight at SAFS, it wouldn’t be my MS project, proving or disproving whether a so-called “Dirty-Dozen” group of trawlers existed in the Alaska fleet… (results “disproved” the moniker). Rather, the all-time highlight began during an undergraduate lecture by Tom Quinn, when he offered a nebulous project to his entire Fish Ecology class— studying fish migration in the Columbia River. No takers then; however, some time later when Tom advised me on how to tick off all the boxes and complete my degree, he said I should consider doing this project, and as a tradeoff, petition to omit a couple of required courses regarding fishing gear technology and world fisheries issues. I pondered for a moment and took him up on his offer. I am so thrilled that I did… it evolved into a 1996 paper in the journal Ecology with Tom and me as authors. It is a wonderful and oft-cited paper concerning global warming affecting the migratory timing of anadromous fish.

Finally, and directly related to my experience at SAFS, is my confidence in academic discipline, without which I would have never been able to take on the enormous project of writing a book— “Four Thousand Hooks,” published by UW Press in 2012. Tom and Ray Hilborn are in the book’s acknowledgements.

I am so very grateful to have been part of UW SAFS.

The FV QUEST
The FV QUEST
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