Centennial Story 84: Bob Trumble (MS, 1973; PhD, 1979)

Even as a kid growing up in the eastern Washington desert, I had a fascination with water. I tell my friends that I was the first kid to fall in the mud puddle in the spring and the last to crawl out in the fall. Maybe it traces back to grade school in Annapolis where my Dad taught at the Naval Academy and I spent a lot of time along the Chesapeake Bay. Anyway, I made my way to UW in 1961 where I majored in Oceanography. After graduation, I spent the Viet Nam era working as a civilian Oceanographer for the US Navy. I spent more time at sea than most of the sailors on board, but they couldn’t grow a beard, have long hair, or wear love beads.

Sailing with Morris Wade (BS, 1972) on Puget Sound, 1970s.
Sailing with Morris Wade (BS, 1972) on Puget Sound, 1970s.

I got accepted to graduate school at the UW College of Fisheries in 1971. My professors and fellow grad students helped me focus my widely distributed attention. First, Hiroshi Kasahara mentored me through my MS. Then Ole Mathisen and Dick Thorne picked me up to work with them on a hydroacoustic study of neckton in the east Africa upwelling system for my PhD. Part way to completion, Gene DiDonato hired me at the Washington Department of Fisheries Marine Fish Program to work on baitfish. I learned a lot about applied science and management from Gene and my new colleagues Mark Pedersen (MS, 1974), Ray Buckley (BS, 1963; MS, 1969; PhD, 1997), and Dan Kimura (1972, Biostatistics), and from my former professors Don Gunderson and Bruce Miller for whom I served on student committees and helped teach classes. Plus, I learned how things work and how to get things done in often adversarial conditions.

My new office, located on campus in the Mezzanine Level of the old Fisheries Center, gave me immediate access to my old office on the Oceanography Barge. Gene very graciously gave me time to slip out the back door to the barge to work on my dissertation. I found it very hard to keep my attention on my dissertation while taking on the new and interesting issues of my new job. I probably wouldn’t have finished without Gene’s help, and without the encouragement of Ole and my Dad, who both told me to wrap it up or go on to other things. I finally graduated in 1979, and dang, that felt good. After nine years, I moved slightly up the food chain to work in Olympia as coordinator of Puget Sound Watershed Planning (read salmon), trying to make sense of disparate positions of farmers, ranchers, loggers, Treaty Tribes, and the Department in building a watershed management plan.

About the time I got my 10-year pin at WDF, Don McCaughran called to check my interest in working for the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). I jumped at the chance for an even better job than at WDF and a chance to work in Seattle. From our office above the Fishery Library, I had a chance to work with many UW grads on the staff, including Steve Hoag (MS, 1968), Bill Clark (PhD, 1975; who I helped recruit from the WDF), Morris Wade (BS, 1972) Ana Parma (PhD, 1989), Terry Quinn (MS, 1977; PhD [Biomathematics], 1980), and Rick Deriso (PhD [Biomathematics], 1978), and to reactivate my ties to the folks at the College of Fisheries. Among other things, I hired Sara Adlerstein (MS, 1987; PhD, 1992) and Steve Hare (PhD, 1986) at the end of their PhD programs; this showed great wisdom on my part.

Successful day fishing for Lake Washington sockeye with Steve Hoag (MS, 1968), 1996 or 1997.
Successful day fishing for Lake Washington sockeye with Steve Hoag (MS, 1968), 1996 or 1997.

After 14 years of a wonderful mix of science, management, and outreach at IPHC, my wife and I decided that we needed a change that included warmer weather. In 1999 we moved from Seattle to St Petersburg FL. My wife, Cindy, worked at United Airlines and I was unemployed when we arrived. Cindy supported, us and I played tennis and rode my bike. I met Graeme Parkes who ran MRAG Americas, at the time a two-person fishery consulting company, and went to work for him. There, I performed project planning, assembled research teams, and conducted research, with a focus on improving management of aquatic ecosystems and the resources and fisheries they support. I was manager of MRAG’s certification program for Marine Stewardship Council and other sustainability and traceability assessments; manager for providing personnel to NOAA facilities (Silver Spring, Seattle, Woods Hole, St Croix); provided oversight of observer programs; prepared and reviewed fishery management and habitat management plans; and conducted workshops on fishery issues. Over time, people came and went, the company expanded, and through attrition, I ended up as Vice President. The company has clients all over the world. I traveled a lot, which is fun, exhilarating, and exhausting. We subcontracted with numerous School of Fisheries folks, including Director Andre Punt as a team member for the MSC Orange Roughy certification.

When people asked me when I would retire, I’d say when I don’t have fun anymore. The fun started to wane in early 2017 and I retired at the end of that year. I still do a bit of work as an independent consultant. It’s a lot more fun to work on my terms, and pick the projects that I want to do.

May 2016 of me overlooking Auckland, New Zealand, from the top of a small extinct volcano in the center of (L to R) Geoff Tingley, David Agnew, Jonathan Jacobson, and George Clement, attending a Marine Stewardship Council Principle 2 workshop.
May 2016 of me overlooking Auckland, New Zealand, from the top of a small extinct volcano in the center of (L to R) Geoff Tingley, David Agnew, Jonathan Jacobson, and George Clement, attending a Marine Stewardship Council Principle 2 workshop.

So I learned a few things over the past 50+ years of fisheries science and management that I might as well lay out, since I spent so much time here with things less important. The most important, get a good base. Ole Mathisen encouraged me to become a good scientist before I wandered off into other policy and management activities. I credit the faculty and students at the College of Fisheries for what success I’ve had here, thanks to a rigorous curriculum and stimulating discussions. I have also learned that fisheries is an amazing career, through which I have travelled to wonderful places, worked on exciting projects, and met amazing people. A number of my younger colleagues have told me that I mentored them and helped them get started in fisheries. While I had never thought of it in these terms, successful fisheries practitioners need to pass on the experience gained throughout a career to those who follow us, and I am very relieved to find out that I did that, even without planning to. And finally, have fun. I could not have worked so hard for so many years if I had not.

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