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AFSC Historical Corner:  1990 - 1999

Agency Timeline
Early Pioneers
Research and Mgmt.

A Dividing of the Center and Important AFSC Research

Steller sea lion
The AFSC made significant studies in the 1990s regarding the population decline of Steller sea lions.  R. Ream (AFSC), photographer, 1993.

In 1990, The Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Center (NWAFC) was divided into two centers both located in Seattle, Washington:

Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) at Sand Point (made up of ABL, NMML, OFIS, and the RACE and REFM Divisions)

Northwest Fisheries Science Center at Montlake (with the CZES, EC, and UR Divisions).

The restructuring plan emphasized continued Division interaction. The RACE, REFM, and UR Divisions, and NMML supported the ecosystem, with program responsibilities applying to both the Northwest and Alaska regions.

Throughout the 1990s, the Alaska Fisheries Science Center managed the Nation's largest fishery observer program. It also continued the examination of impacts from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill on Prince William Sound in Alaska, the study of declining Steller sea lion populations, and long-term surveys conducted on northern fur seals at the Pribilof Islands which began in 1872.

Other significant events:

  • 1992 - The Convention for the Conservation of Anadromous Stocks in the North Pacific Ocean was signed in Moscow by Canada, Japan, Russia, and the United States, establishing the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission. The North Pacific Anadromous Stocks Convention Act repealed the North Pacific Fisheries Act of 1954 and implemented protective measures for salmon and shad.
  • 1992 - The High Seas Driftnet Fisheries Enforcement Act was passed to maintain a list of nations that allowed large-scale driftnet fishing – which entangles protected mammals and fish as well as commercial fish – beyond their exclusive economic zones (EEZ).
  • 1994 - A South Korean fishing company, whose vessel was caught poaching fish from U.S. waters in the western Pacific, settled in U.S. District Court for a $1 million fine and agreed to have its fleet of 17 fishing vessels tracked by satellite for 5 years. The provision allowing satellite tracking by U.S. authorities was unprecedented.
  • 1995 - Management of the Pacific halibut and sablefish fisheries off Alaska was converted from an open-to-entry "derby-style" system to individual fishing quotas, allowing an 8-month season, improved product quality, and availability of fresh halibut and sablefish to the consumer.
  • 1995 - The first research cruises for the Ocean Carrying Capacity study in the North Pacific Ocean began successfully in October through a joint effort by scientists from the ABL and the Biological Laboratory (Canada Department of Fish and Oceans, Nanaimo, B.C.).
  • 1995 - A small group of scientists established the AFSC Diversity Panel to expand the Alaska Fisheries Science Center's educational outreach activities. The mission of the Diversity Panel was "to chart and coordinate AFSC's activities in promoting community outreach programs, training opportunities for current employees, and establish cooperative programs with regional educational institutions to encourage interest in the disciplines of mathematics and science."
  • 1996 - On 3 January, Dr. William Aron retired as Center Director. On 16 August, Dr. James W. Balsiger was appointed Science and Research Director of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center.
  • 1996 - The Alaska Fisheries Science Center website went public.

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