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Ray Hilborn

Research areas

Ray Hilborn is interested in fisheries population dynamics and management, natural resource conservation, and fishery resources management of the west coast of the U. S., Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Specific topics of research interest include: explicit spatial modeling of populations, design of adaptive management systems for natural resources, the behavior and dynamics of fishing fleets, relating models to data using maximum likelihood and Bayesian methods, fisheries stock assessment and population viability analysis. His also has major projects on salmon in Western Alaska, salmon and marine fishes on the west coast of the lower 48 states, and stock assessments and marine mammal interactions in New Zealand marine fisheries.

In the News

from the College of the Environment college newsletter, March 2017

University Faculty Lecture: Q&A with Aquatic and Fishery Sciences’ Ray Hilborn

The world’s oceans provide an important source of nutrition for more than a billion people and employment for hundreds of millions. But is it sustainable?

In the past 10 years, a series of international collaborations have evaluated the impact of fishing around the world, and the results are contrary to popular perception: The abundance of fish in the oceans appears to be stable overall — not decreasing — and fish numbers are increasing in countries that are willing to reduce fishing pressure when necessary.

Aquatic and Fishery SciencesRay Hilborn is an leading expert in the field, and will share what he’s learned about the environmental impact of harvesting food from the seas compared to other food sources at the upcoming University Faculty Lecture. Hilborn’s “Sustaining Food from the Seas” lecture will take place on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 7 p.m. at Kane Hall. This lecture is free and is open to the public.

In advance of his lecture, we caught up with Ray for a quick Q&A:

If there’s one takeaway that your lecture inspires in attendees, what do you hope it will be?

“That most fisheries in the U.S. and many other countries are well-managed and produce high-quality food at a low environmental cost compared to other foods.”

When did you decide you wanted to study fisheries?

“When I realized that skills I had could be used in helping manage resources that were important to a lot of people. When I understood that my knowledge and skills had important practical applications.”

As an early career scientist, what was the biggest question facing fisheries management?

“In the 1970s, the real question was whether we could manage fisheries sustainably. That has largely been solved for developed countries, and we are doing a good job. Now the question is how do we bring sustainability to countries with much less science and management capacity.”

You’ve produced a volume of important research during your career. What work are you most proud of?

“The books — a friend once told me that if you want to get tenure, publish papers and if you want to change the world, write books that help other people do better science.”

What advice do you have for someone wanting to make an informed decision about the seafood they eat?

“Eat local seafood.”

What is one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?

“One, that I’m a terrestrial ecologist by training and two, I’m usually the first person to get seasick when I go out on the ocean.”