Joseph Powers

Location of Interview
Collection Name

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.

Collection doi
Date of Interview
Biographical Sketch

Dr. Joseph Powers was born on February 19, 1949 in Gustine, California. He has earned degrees from the University of California, Davis A.B. Zoology 1971; California State University, Humboldt M.S. Fisheries Biology 1973 ; and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University PhD Fisheries Science 1975. He began his career with National Marine Fisheries Service at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in 1975. He then moved to the Southeast Fisheries Science Centers in 1979. During his time at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center, he served in many roles including as the Senior Stock Assessment Scientist and Acting Regional Administrator. He also served on ICCAT committees related to his work with blue fin tuna. Dr. Powers retired from NOAA after 31 years and as of this interview in 2016, he is a professor at Louisiana State University, living in Miami.

Interview contains discussions of: Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Magnuson Stevens Act and changes in role of NMFS, ICCAT, conflicts between fishery scientists and fishers, fisheries stock assessment procedures, mathematical modeling in fisheries, king mackerel, surveys, population dynamics, histograph, ecosystem-based fisheries management, single-species assessment, blue fin tuna, tuna quotas, tuna fishing in the Mediterranean Sea, future of modeling in fisheries science, fish tagging.

Joseph Powers’ interview is a detailed explanation of his experiences working for NOAA at the Southeast and Southwest Fisheries Science Centers; in particular his work with stock assessments and modeling. He explains various procedures that fisheries scientists perform, as well as the politics of working for a government agency. He discusses the value he sees in maintaining a separation of science and management. This interview also provides a description of his work with ICCAT and blue fin tuna both domestically and internationally.

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