Fisheries Course Navigates Students Through the Rocky Seas of Management

By June Shrestha, Ichthyology Lab.

Understanding how people use the ocean and its resources is not straightforward. Some fish for a job. Some fish for fun. Some don’t fish at all and use the waters for recreation, tourism, or science. How can we manage the ocean when so many different groups (stakeholders) have different needs and wants?

Last semester, students explored these issues in the Fisheries Biology and Resource Management seminar course taught by Dr. Scott Hamilton (Ichthyology) and Dr. Rick Starr (Fisheries and Conservation Biology). We learned that many fisheries around the world are overexploited, such as the decline of Nassau Grouper in the Bahamas, Common Thresher sharks around the world, and the Brown Sea Cucumber in the Galápagos Islands.

Exploited and Recovering Fisheries

Overexploited fisheries include the Nassau Grouper, Common Thresher Shark, and Sea Cucumber. The Orange Roughy fishery in Australia is thought to be in recovery. Photo sources, clockwise from top left: 1, 2, 3, 4.

However, not all is “doom and gloom” – success stories in fisheries management do exist.

The Orange Roughy in Australia is thought to be in recovery, and some studies suggest that globally, more fisheries are recovering from overexploitation.

Fishery status (Worm et al. 2009)

Globally, many fisheries are in recovery (Worm et al. 2009).


The class featured discussions with weekly speakers, in-depth presentations from each of us on a fishery of our choice, and even a field trip to a Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Sacramento. For me, the seminar speakers were the real highlight of the course. We heard from experts in stock assessment, management, fishing, and conservation working as scientists, managers, environmental lawyers, and entrepreneurs. I learned that jobs in this field are more diverse than I initially realized, and the speakers provided an excellent opportunity to think about potential career paths outside of academia.


Here’s what other students had to say:


Victoria Elena Vásquez“Since many of our speakers were past MLML students sharing their current involvement in fishery issues, this made the course feel more like a window into our career futures!”

Vicky Vasquez, Pacific Shark Research Center

Student Bonnie Brown“I thoroughly enjoyed the fisheries course at MLML. It was an extremely enriching class that gave me insight into multiple complex components of fisheries and fisheries management. As a first year fisheries student, the presentation and paper of a specific fishery was particularly helpful… and helped spark ideas for potential thesis topics.”

Bonnie Brown, Fisheries and Conservation Biology Lab

fStudent Christian Denney“A seminar class on steroids.”

          – Christian Denney, Fisheries and Conservation Biology Lab



The 2015 Fisheries Biology and Resource Management seminar class provided an excellent opportunity for us to learn of the complexities in this field, and real-world application of management principles. The course is only offered every few years, so if any future students are reading this blog post, I recommend taking it if you can!

This entry was posted in Fisheries, June Shrestha, Sustainability, Tales from the Classroom and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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