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DeMaster Named Alaska Science and Research Director

Dr. Douglas DeMaster was named Director of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) effective 7 October 2001. Between 1998 and  2001, DeMaster served as the Division Director of the AFSC’s National Marine Mammal Laboratory (NMML), where he was responsible for research on marine mammals in waters off Alaska, Washington, and Oregon.

During that time he worked closely with the Protected Resources staffs of the Alaska Regional Office and NMFS Headquarters in helping to write Biological Opinions related to the potential impact of groundfish fisheries in Alaska on Endangered Species Act-listed species. He also served then  as president of the Society for Marine Mammalogy and vice-chair of the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

Between 1992 and 1998, DeMaster lead the NMML’s Cetacean Assessment and Ecology Program.  In that position he conducted research on beluga and gray whales and helped direct research on other cetaceans of the North Pacific.  He served as a member of the U.S. delegation to the IWC Scientific Committee where he participated in  efforts to 1) develop a new management regime for aboriginal whaling,  2) assess the status of stocks of bowhead and gray whales, and 3) incorporate environmental data in the management regime for large whales.

Prior to coming to the AFSC, DeMaster headed the Marine Mammal Division at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California, where he worked primarily on research related to the bycatch of dolphins in the tuna fishery.  Under his direction, one of the largest marine mammal surveys in terms of ship time and geographic coverage was carried out from 1986 to 1992.  The objective of the research was to determine the extent to which the practice of setting on large schools of dolphins in the eastern tropical Pacific associated with large schools of yellowfin tuna adversely affected dolphin populations.  During the survey, abundance estimates for more than 20 species of cetaceans were derived.

DeMaster is recognized as one of the leading experts on marine mammal stock assessment and marine mammal-fishery interactions. To date he has 58 peer-reviewed publications on marine mammals and an additional 38 reports related to the population ecology of marine mammals.  In cooperation with other NMFS scientists, DeMaster helped develop the system under which marine mammals are managed in the United States under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  For these efforts, he along with three others received the Department of Commerce’s Gold Medal award in 1996.

Since receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1978, DeMaster has been an active member of the academic community.  Between 1991 and 1997 he was an adjunct professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where he taught courses on marine mammal biology and population dynamics. Since 1994, DeMaster has been an affiliate professor at the University of Washington’s School of Marine Affairs. He also serves on the Hawaiian monk seal recovery team and as the chair of the southern sea otter recovery team.



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