Randall M. Peterman, Canada Research Chair in Fisheries Risk Assessment and Management
School of Resource and Environmental Management
Date: Mar 12, 2009
Our research group has contributed to conservation and management of Pacific salmon populations. We have applied advanced statistical methods to large data bases to extract clearer understanding of salmon population dynamics from "noisy" data. Such data are clouded by large natural environmental variability, climatic trends, and measurement error. One finding is that productivity tends to be positively correlated across salmon populations, with the strength of that correlation decreasing with increasing distance between populations. These results led to identifying early summer ocean conditions (reflected by sea-surface temperature) as an important environmental driver of productivity of salmon populations. Our research also includes developing empirically based decision analyses and computer simulation models to evaluate options for managing healthy populations, as well as rebuilding depleted ones. These "closed loop" simulation models include key components of salmon fisheries systems, plus major sources of uncertainty such as measurement error and uncertainty in how actual outcomes differ from management goals. These risk assessment models help inform trade-off decisions that must be made among ecological and economic objectives. We have also quantitatively evaluated models and indicators of conservation concern to increase chances of correctly identifying conservation status of salmon populations.
Dr. Randall M. Peterman completed his B.Sc. in Biological Sciences at the University of California at Davis and his Ph.D. degree in Zoology at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Peterman is a Professor in the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University. In 1990, Dr. Peterman won SFU's Excellence in Teaching Award. He has held a Canada Research Chair in Fisheries Risk Assessment and Management since 2001. Dr. Peterman is also the founder and past Director of the Cooperative Resource Management Institute, a unit on campus that facilitates collaboration among university researchers, resource management agencies, and industry. Dr. Peterman's research focuses on fish population dynamics, uncertainties affecting conservation risks and management decisions, and approaches to reducing uncertainties. His research group specializes in developing and applying quantitative methods for risk assessment to improve fisheries conservation and management. The group uses large data sets, simulation models, Bayesian and other statistical methods, and formal decision analysis. Peer recognition for his research includes the 1990 J.C. Stevenson Award for "... creative research on the cutting edge of an aquatic discipline." Other awards include the 2006 Robert L. Kendall "Best Paper Award" from the American Fisheries Society, "The Most Significant Paper in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management" (1992), and the 1994 W.F. Thompson Award from the American Institute of Fisheries Research Biologists. Dr. Peterman has participated in numerous international scientific meetings and has served on various expert advisory groups. He co-chaired a panel for the Canadian Global Change Program of the Royal Society of Canada and was one of the authors of the now widely used 1995 "Precautionary Approach to Capture Fisheries" of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Dr. Peterman also collaborates with several fisheries management agencies in western North America. He has been particularly involved in Pacific salmon research in British Columbia.