A Human Side of Fisheries
Shawn J. Riley and Amber D. Goguen
In the enthusiasm and excitement for fish and their watery habitats, it is easy to lose sight of the people in a fishery. As college educators, we continually pester resource agency directors and division chiefs about the traits they desire in professionals starting their careers. The nearly unanimous replies are “We need better people people” or “We want employees with better people skills.” But what do they mean? When pressed further, administrators reveal that they are seeking employees who can communicate well with external partners and stakeholders and work effectively with others in their agency. These comments are reinforced by recent graduates in fisheries who often muse that although their education and training mainly focused on biology or ecology, they now find themselves working mostly with people.
Likely, this is not the first time you have read or have been told that you will spend much of your career in fisheries with people, not fish. You may have been attracted to fisheries because of a love for fish or aquatic ecosystems, or perhaps you imagined a career working alone in the great outdoors, or maybe you even hold a secret aversion to working with people. You are not alone! Most people are not drawn into fisheries because they want to work with people. However, the preponderance of evidence suggests that fisheries management is as much a social as a biologically scientific discipline.