Robert Kope

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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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Biographical Sketch

Robert Kope was born in Reedley, California in 1953. He received his PhD in Population Ecology from the University of California Davis and began working for NOAA Fisheries at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in1989.His work has focused on stock assessments, harvest management, and conservation biology of salmon in northern California. In 1994, Robert moved to the Northwest Fisheries Science Center to participate in the coast-wide status review of all Pacific salmon species under the Endangered Species Act. He currently serves on the Pacific Fishery Management Council Salmon Technical Team and the Pacific Salmon Commission’s Chinook Technical Committee.

Interview contains discussions of :NOAA, NMFS, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, population ecology, stock assessment, conservation biology, salmon, Chinook salmon, Endangered Species Act, Pacific Fishery Management Council and Pacific Salmon Commission.

In this interview, Robert Kope discusses his career as a biologist with the NMFS. He originally began working in timber management with the Forest Service, but chose to switch careers after developing arthritis in his 20s. He originally worked in the Southwest Tiburon Lab as the only salmon fisheries biologist, but moved to a conservation biology position at the Northwest Lab after becoming involved in coast-wide status reviews of salmon.

After finishing the coast-wide status reviews of Chinook, coho, pink, and chum salmon, he began providing technical advice to the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the Pacific Salmon Commission.

Kope also discusses technological advancements in computing as having the greatest impact on his field, particularly for data analysis and modeling. Genetics and genome sequencing have allowed him to gain a better understanding of stock distribution. Kope plans on retiring within the next five years after helping to renegotiate the Chinook Chapter of the Pacific Salmon Treaty.

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