Voices from the Science Centers is an oral history initiative dedicated to documenting the institutional knowledge of fisheries scientists and administrators in the labs of NOAA’s Fisheries Science Centers.
Dr. Doug Lipton is currently the Senior Research Economist at NOAA Fisheries and a member of the Council of NOAA Fellows. He has a Bachelor’s in Biology from Stony Brook University, a Master’s in Marine Science from the College of William and Mary, and a PhD in Agriculture and Resource Economics from the University of Maryland. He started with the National Marine Fisheries Service as a Sea Grant Fellow in 1979 and was hired by NMFS as a fishery biologist before returning to school for economics. He also worked for Sea Grant as the national economics coordinator.
Interview contains discussions of: fisheries economics, resource economics, NOAA, NMFS [National Marine Fisheries Service], marine science, human dimensions, Sea Grant Fellowship, Magnuson-Stevens Act, ecosystem-based fisheries management, Cooperative Institutes, ICES [International Council for the Exploration of the Sea], modeling, big data, surveys, watershed.
In this interview, Doug Lipton discusses his current role as senior scientist for economics in promoting the inclusion of high-level economics in NOAA. He describes the history and growth of economics in NOAA during his time with the agency, from one or two economists in each center to 100 economics and human dimensions employees across the country, and modern interdisciplinary research on how to manage fisheries through an economic lens.
Lipton details his work on projects to incorporate economics into ecosystems-based fisheries management, and also spends time discussing the important role of Cooperative Institutes, coalitions of universities that can easily collaborate with NOAA. He hopes to establish a Cooperative Institute specifically for economics. He describes similarities and differences between working in government and working in academia, since he has experiences both worlds, as well as the history of Sea Grant and his extensive involvement with the program throughout the years, from being one of the first Sea Grant Fellows to becoming the national Sea Grant economics coordinator.
Lipton analyses the impact of more detailed and extensive data on economics research in developing accurate models for decision-making, and the difficult and time consuming process of developing surveys for sampling and low survey response rate. He is most proud of his work building a watershed and water quality program and creating new positions to deal with watershed problems. To people coming into NOAA, he advises that one must not only be self-motivated, but also be able to choose the things that are most important to work on and do one’s
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