SFU fisheries grads are a prize catch

October 05, 2006, volume 37, no. 3
By Carol Thorbes

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Graduates of Simon Fraser University's master's and doctoral programs in fisheries science and management are becoming the prized catches of private, government, and non-government agencies, worldwide.

Teaching grads how to solve real-life fisheries problems using applied science is the focus of the SFU fisheries science and management research group, which is part of the school of resource and environmental Management (REM).

The courses, which are unique at Canadian universities, teach graduates how to understand ongoing issues in fish population dynamics and management and to evaluate management options that are mindful of trade offs.

REM fisheries graduates can navigate troubled waters in fisheries management because of their ability to generate reliable scientific data and grasp how fisheries science intersects with many disciplines, such as environmental policy and law.

"In fisheries management, decisions usually involve making trade offs about conservation, social, economic and other values," notes Randall Peterman, one of REM's three fisheries faculty members.

"We don't suggest which trade offs to make, but our students' use of analytical tools produces results that can help decision-makers make well-informed decisions."

Most of the decision-makers to date in fisheries management have had training in economics, law and/or biology, but they haven't had the breadth of training offered by SFU's program, observes Peterman.

Recent master's graduate Jaclyn Cleary designed a coast-wide survey to study the health of B.C.'s sablefish—a $40 million dollar industry.

The same student is working on a trawl-survey design to assess the health of B.C.'s $160 million ground fish trawl industry.

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