History Makers: West Coast Fishery Pioneers

Biographical Sketches on the Nominees

Designed in partnership with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Reuben Lasker

 Reuben Lasker

  • Worked for the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries and NOAA Fisheries Service in San Diego, California
  • Studied small, planktonic organisms that are important food for feeder fish such as anchovies and sardines that layer in the water column
  • Taught at Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  • Lasker's most widely cited papers on the special ocean conditions necessary to the survival of larval fishes became widely known as the "Lasker Hypothesis" or "Lasker Events"

More Links:
Biography (by A. Longhurst)
Field criteria for survival of anchovy larvae (by R. Lasker)
The relationship between oceanographic conditions and larval recruitment in the California Current (by R. Lasker)
Rueben Lasker, in remembrance (by L. Vlyman)
Lasker Events (by D. Pauly)

Frances N. Clark

California Department of Fish and Game file photos; Scripps Institution of Oceanography Archives photo (right)
  • Among first generation of marine biologists
  • In field previously dominated by men, became one of first female fishery researchers to receive worldwide acclaim
  • 32-year career with California Department of Fish and Game; 17 years as director of California State Fisheries Laboratory
  • Famous for her work on grunion, sardines, the California Current.
  • Instrumental in establishment of Cal COFI (California Cooperative Oceanographic Fisheries Investigations), an organization that studies the marine environment and manages its living resources. (She stayed actively involved into her late eighties.)

More Links:
Dr. Frances Clark: a California pioneer in marine conservation (by W. Marx)
California marine fisheries investigations, 1914-1939 (by F.N. Clark)
Population dynamics of the Pacific sardine (by F.N. Clark and J.C. Marr)
Early women ichthyologists (by P.S. Brown)

Milner B. "Benny" Schaefer

Courtesy of Kurt Schaefer


  • First Director of Investigations for the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission
  • Served as Director of the Institute of Marine Resources at Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  • Pioneer in the area of population dynamics and marine ecology
  • Served as science advisor to Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall
  • Authored over 100 scientific papers

Douglas G. Chapman

Douglas G. Chapman

  • Expertise in estimating marine mammal populations
  • Chaired the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee for nine years
  • In the 1960s he warned that the number of whales taken by the whaling industry was in excess of what populations could stand
  • Led expansion of aquaculture to include shellfish species

More Links:
Guide to the Douglas G. Chapman Papers The previous link is a link to Non-Federal government web site. Click to review NOAA Fisheries disclaimer


Donald E. Bevan

Donald E. Bevan

  • Pioneer in bringing science and management together
  • Best known as chairman of Snake River salmon recovery team and for his efforts to restore Columbia River fish stocks
  • 50-year career with University of Washington, including Dean of Fisheries
  • Initiated use of fish tagging to estimate run sizes of commercial salmon species

More Links:
The Bevan Sustainable Fisheries Seminar Series The previous link is a link to Non-Federal government web site. Click to review NOAA Fisheries disclaimer


William Frances Thompson


William Thompson

  • Conducted first intensive studies of Pacific halibut. His groundbreaking research supported claims that deep-sea fishery stocks were in decline
  • Launched first studies on Pacific sardine, albacore, and other economically important marine organisms
  • Developed and directed the California Fish and Game Commission’s first marine fisheries lab

More Links:
More about his pioneering halibut work 


Last modified: 3/31/2016