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AFSC Historical Corner:  Early Pioneers and Key Figures in Alaska Fisheries

Early Pioneers
Spencer F. Baird
Tarleton H. Bean
Henry Wood Elliott
George Brown Goode
Charles H. Gilbert
John Nathan Cobb
William F. Thompson
Other Individuals
Research and Mgmt.
bureau commissioners
Early fisheries commissioners:  S. F. Baird (center),
G. B. Goode (top-right), M. McDonald (top-left),
J. J. Brice (lower-left) and G. M. Bowers (lower-right).  Paul Galtsoff, photographer.  NEFSC photo.

Throughout the history of the federal marine fisheries in Alaska, many people have played important roles in its evolution. From Spencer Fullerton Baird, who first headed the newly formed U.S. Fish Commission in 1871, to Seton Hayes Thompson, a notable biologist who retired in 1969 after serving with the Agency for 40 years.

Presented in this section is just a sampling of the individuals, including scientists, conservationists, and goverment agents, recognized for their significant contributions to this history. Other areas of these historical pages contain references to the unnamed, who devoted much of their lives to their work, often spending long periods in remote, isolated and severe condition environments. The "Leadership" box below lists the names of those who held higher administrative positions as commissioners and directors within the Agency.

Featured Individuals:

  Spencer Fullerton Baird  (1823-1887)
  Tarleton Hoffman Bean  (1846-1916)
  Henry Wood Elliott  (1846-1930)
  George Brown Goode  (1851-1896)
  Charles Henry Gilbert  (1859-1928)
  John Nathan Cobb  (1868-1930)
  William Francis Thompson  (1888-1965)
  Others: L. Stone,  D. S. Jordan,  G. A. Clark,  W. H. Rich,
S. H. Thompson,  G. B. Kelez,  G. A. Rounsefell,
S. J. Hutchinson

Agency  Commissioners  &  Directors
1871-87  Spencer F. Baird  USCFF  
1887-88  George Brown Goode  USCFF
1888-95  Marshall McDonald  USFC
1895-96  Herbert A. Gill  (Acting)  USFC
1896-98  John J. Brice  USFC
1898-13  George M. Bowers  USFC, BOF
1913-22  Hugh M. Smith  BOF
1922-33  Henry O'Malley  BOF
1933-39  Frank T. Bell  BOF
1939-40  Charles Jackson  (Acting)  BOF
1940-46  Ira N. Gabrielson  FWS
1946-53  Albert M. Day  FWS
1953-57  John L. Farley  FWS, BCF
1957-67  Donald L. McKernan  BCF
1967-70  Harold E. Crowther  BCF
1970-73  Philip M. Roedel  NMFS
1973-77  Robert W. Schoning  NMFS
1978-81  Terry L. Leitzell  NMFS
1981  William H. Stevenson (Acting)  NMFS
1981-86  William G. Gordon  NMFS
1987  William E. Evans  NMFS
1988-89  James W. Brennan  NMFS
1989-92  William W. Fox  NMFS
1993  Nanacy Foster (Acting)  NMFS
1993-99  Rolland A. Schmitten  NMFS
1999-00  Penelope E. Dalton  NMFS
2000-07  William T. Hogarth  NMFS
2008  John Oliver (Acting)  NMFS
2008-10  James W. Balsiger (Acting)  NMFS
2010-12  Eric C. Schwaab  NMFS
 Samuel D. Rauch III (Acting)  NMFS
Center  Directors
1931-33  Joseph Craig  Montlake
1933-41  Frederick Davidson  Montlake
1941-43  Harlan Holmes  Montlake
1943-44  Willis Rich  Montlake
1944-51  Tom Barnaby  Montlake
1951-52  Clifford Burner  Montlake
1952-66  Clinton E. Atkinson  Montlake
1966  Clifford Burner  Montlake
1966-71  Gerald Collins  Montlake
1971-80  Dayton Lee Alverson  NWFC, NWAFC
1980  Francis Fukuhara  (Acting)  NWAFC
1980  Murray Hayes  (Acting)  NWAFC
1980-96  William Aron  NWAFC, AFSC
1996-00  James W. Balsiger  AFSC
2000-01  James M. Coe  (Acting)  AFSC
2001-  Douglas DeMaster  AFSC
USCFF - U.S. Commission of Fish & Fisheries (1871-88)
USFC - U.S. Fish Commission (1888-03)
BOF - Bureau of Fisheries (1903-40)
FWS - Fish and Wildlife Service (1940-56)
BCF - Bureau of Commercial Fisheries (1956-1970)
NMFS - National Marine Fisheries Service (1970-)
          (now also "NOAA Fisheries")

Montlake - Seattle Biological Laboratory
NWFC - Northwest Fisheries Center (NMFS, 1971-76)
NWAFC - Northwest & Alaska Fisheries Center (1976-90)
AFSC - Alaska Fisheries Science Center (1990-)

Event items:

  • 1978 - First U.S. woman biologist as an observer on a foreign groundfish vessel fishing in Alaskan waters.

    Jennifer Sassano became the first U.S. woman biologist to be placed as an observer on a foreign groundfish vessel fishing in Alaskan waters. Sassano would spend 2 months on the factor trawler Katangly I sampling the Soviet catch in the Gulf of Alaska. In 1977, one U.S. woman biologist had served as an observer aboard a Polish hake vessel operating off Washington, Oregon, California. In 1978, Japanese, Polish and Soviet groundfish vessels agreed to have U.S. women observers aboard. As a result, 10 trips were scheduled during the summer for women observers in the northeastern Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea.  (Sept 1978 Monthly Report, Resource Ecology and Fishery Management Division)

  • 1984 - Four whale biologists survive crash in Arctic Ocean

    Three National Marine Mammal Laboratory (NMML) biologists, David Rugh, Barb Taylor, and Ann Sinclair, along with Jim Cubbage of the Cascadia Research Collective (Olympia, WA) were conducting photographic surveys of bowhead whales when the engines of their plane failed. Both engines of their DeHaviland Twin Otter had stalled 1,000 feet over the Beaufort Sea, some 6 miles from shore.  More >>

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