On the birth and death of ideas in marine science

Last modified: 
August 30, 2016 - 9:00am
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2015
Date published: 03/2015
Authors: B. Rothschild
Journal title: ICES Journal of Marine Science
ISSN: 1054-3139

In this essay, I review six decades of my career in marine science and fisheries, considering the ideas that came and went in the period as “food for thought”. I describe my inspirations and successes, and my disappointments and failures. My activities were both administrative and research-oriented. As regards the former, I was part of major changes in ocean policy and new ocean research programmes that gave me a unique perspective. For example, I was responsible for the implementation of the US extended jurisdiction in fisheries under National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Also I conceived and led the creation of the Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics Programme (GLOBEC) and guided it in many international contexts, including its integration with the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP). From a research standpoint, my efforts leading up to GLOBEC strongly influenced the introduction of ocean physics into biological oceanography. This led me into plankton dynamics, food signals, small-scale turbulence and physical forcing, even into the stochastic geometry of the plankton. My life-long interest in the dynamics of marine fish populations was strongly influenced by the seminal thinkers in fisheries and my research explored population regulation processes as well as practical applications of statistics and operations research to fisheries management. In my last academic post, I became founding Dean of the School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) at the University of Massachusetts. This position required integrating administrative and research (both pure and applied) perspectives to create an institution of academic excellence which was at the same time actively responsive to issues arising in our local, nationally prominent fisheries. I end the essay with a consideration of “what has changed”.

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