Gary Shepherd

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Voices from the Science Centers


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.

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Date of Interview
Biographical Sketch

Gary Shepherd is a research fishery biologist with the Coastal Pelagic Resources Task in the Population Dynamics Branch of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center. He started working for NMFS as a summer student aide in 1975 as a college freshman at UMass Dartmouth and did work-study in the Age and Growth Unit during his senior year. He went to Rutgers for graduate school where he conducted research on weakfish and striped bass populations. After a co-op at Rutgers‟ Sandy Hook Lab,Shepherd returned to the Population Dynamics branch, where he serves as task leader for the Coastal/Pelagic group.

Interview contains discussions of: weakfish, striped bass, black sea bass, fish populations, overfishing, fisheries, fishery science, fish reproduction, water pollution, striped bass migration, ICNAF, Hague Line, Georges Bank, NAFO, technology, early computers, early fishery science, modeling, data analysis, Beverton-Holt model, Ricker model and fishery management.

In this interview, Gary Shepherd discusses his decades-long career trajectory within the Northeast Fisheries Science Center—from a student aide to a supervisor in the Population Dynamics branch. He discusses his graduate work on the effects of overfishing on weakfish and striped bass populations along the mid-Atlantic coast, his early days working at the NEFSC, and how the NEFSC has changed over time. He describes the process of completing papers and how he used early computers with punch cards for calculations. Shepherd also touches on the contributions of Graham, Beverton, and Holt to early fishery science in the first half of the 20th century. He discusses the relevance of computer modeling and ecosystem-based analysis to the future of fishery science and the importance of a conservation approach to preserve fisheries for the future.

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