Ray Hilborn

  • Professor, SAFS

Research areas

My research aims to identify how to best manage fisheries to provide sustainable benefits to human society. This involves a combination of building data bases on how fisheries are managed and measures of their performance, analysis of fisheries data sets to evaluate performance, and for Pacific salmon in Alaska, extensive work in the management process and field work on the biology of the salmon.  I am also interested in the role of fish in the global food system and the comparative environmental cost of different foods.

Long-term efforts in my laboratory include maintenance of the RAM Legacy Stock Assessment data base which contains data on the biological status and history of 500+ major fish stocks from around the world that constitute about 40% of global catch, and a range of projects and data sets on fisheries in different parts of the world.   We also maintain a data base on environmental impacts of different food production systems and the nutrient content of foods. A major tool we use is international study teams looking at important and often controversial topics such as the status of fish stocks, the impact of bottom trawling on benthic biota and impact of Marine Protected Areas on fisheries yields.


Areas of Expertise

  • Fisheries management
  • Population dynamics
  • Conservation biology
  • Ecological modelling
  • Pacific salmon
  • African wildlife

Community Engagement and Awards

Advisory Boards

  • Lead author of Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report on sustainable use of wild species, 2018- present
  • Member, Science and Statistics Committee, Western Pacific Fisheries Management Council, 2016-present
  • Member, Editorial Board, Fish and Fisheries, 1999–present


  • 2016 International Fisheries Science Prize from World Fisheries Congress
  • 2012 American Fisheries Society Carl Sullivan Conservation Award to the Alaska Salmon Research Program.
  • 2011 Ecological Society of America Sustainability Science Award for  2009 paper “Rebuilding Global Fisheries”
  • 2010 Elected Fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 2010 Elected Member of Washington State Academy of Sciences
  • 2009 American Institute of Fisheries Research Biologists Outstanding Achievement Award
  • 2006 Volvo Environmental Prize (shared with Carl Walters and Daniel Pauly)
  • 2005 Elected Fellow of Royal Society of Canada
  • 2005 Recipient of American Fisheries Society 2005 National Award of Excellence and Elected Fellow of American Fisheries Society

Selected publications

  • 2020. Hilborn R, R. Amoroso, C. M. Anderson, J. K. Baum, T. A. Branch, C. Costello, C. L. de Moor, A. Faraj, D. Hively, O. P. Jensen, H. Kurota, L. R. Little, P. Mace, T. McClanahan, M. C. Melnychuck, C. Minto, G. C. Osio, A. M. Parma, M. Pons, S. Seguardo, C. S. Szuwalski, J. R. Wilson, and Y. Ye.  Effective fisheries management instrumental in improving fish stock status. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 117: 2218-2224

  • 2019.  Hilborn, R. and Hilborn, U. 2019. Ocean Recovery: a sustainable future for global fisheries? Oxford University Press.

  • 2018. Hilborn, R., Banobi, J., Hall, S. J., Pucylowski, T., and Walsworth, T. E.  The environmental cost of animal source foods. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 16:329-335.

  • 2010. Schindler, D. E., Hilborn, R., Chasco, B., Boatright, C. B., Quinn, T. P., Rogers, L. A., and Webster, M. S. Population diversity and the portfolio effect in an exploited species. Nature. 465: 609-613.

  • 2009. Worm, B., Hilborn, +19 other authors. Rebuilding Global Fisheries. Science. 325: 578-585.

  • 1997. Hilborn, R. and M. Mangel.  The Ecological Detective: confronting models with data. Princeton University Press,