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Skip Zenger Retires

  photo of Skip Zenger

Harold (Skip) Zenger, research fishery biologist with the Centerís Resource Assessment and Conservation Engineering (RACE) Division, announced his retirement effective 3 January 2005 after a 36-year career in fisheries.

Skip was born in Alexandria, Virginia in March 1945 and raised on Lynn Canal near Auke Bay, Alaska, where he developed his lifelong interest in fishing and marine science.  He graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 1963, attended Pacific Lutheran University for half his undergraduate career, graduating from San Diego State University with a B.S. degree in biology in June 1969.  Skipís summer jobs included salmon escapement surveys throughout Southeast Alaska with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Skip began his Federal career directly after college as a Fishery Methods and Gear Specialist with the Exploratory Fishing and Gear Research (EF&GR) Base at the Regional Office in Juneau.  One year later EF&GR moved to Kodiak to establish the present-day AFSC Kodiak Biological Laboratory.  In Kodiak he became a NOAA certified SCUBA diver, participating in king crab escapement studies, cannery waste outfall monitoring, and trawl mensuration dives, and began a Gulf of Alaska ichthyoplankton collection using Miller high-speed plankton nets attached to bottom trawls.  He participated in numerous gear tests for Tanner crab traps and two-bag separator shrimp trawls, the precursor of the Bering Sea crab/groundfish survey, and shrimp and crab assessment surveys around Kodiak Island and the Kenai Peninsula.

In December 1972 Skip departed Kodiak to work for a United Nations development project with the Food and Agriculture Organization in Brazil. Working with Brazilian scientists, Skip conducted trawl surveys to delineate penaeid shrimp and groundfish populations and their seasonal movements, scallop abundance and distribution, and made basic oceanographic data collections. While based in southern Brazil he became fluent in Portuguese, writing his cruise reports and technical documents in that language.  During this period he met his wife Marta.

Returning to the United States in July 1977, Skip reestablished his government service as a research fishery biologist with the RACE Division, working first in a joint industry/government Bering Sea surf clam assessment survey with the Latent Resources subtask and later with trap surveys to monitor sablefish abundance off southeastern Alaska and the West Coast.  He pioneered the use of magnesium alloy, timed-release devices with a tunnel-closing device to control fishing effort of sablefish traps.  In the early 1980s he specialized in supplying historical catch distribution information to the fledgling domestic Pacific cod trawl fishing industry and designed and conducted winter trawl assessment surveys for cod. 

In the mid-1980s he used the Governmentís 20/20 program to study advanced fishery science, statistics, and computer programming at the University of Washington.  On completing coursework he participated in the U.S.-Japan Cooperative Longline Survey and helped launch the AFSC Longline Survey of the Gulf of Alaska, in anticipation of the discontinuance of the Cooperative Survey.  Culminating his work with the longline surveys, he coauthored a paper that standardized the decade-long data series of the Cooperative Longline Survey to that of the AFSC survey, allowing modern stock assessment analyses to compare the results of both surveys in common terms.

In 1998, Skip conducted an underwater video survey of the Seguam Pass area in the Aleutian Islands.  This work employed a modified Australian camera sled design built at the Center.  It was used successfully to identify localized trawl damage to demersal habitat and to document fish associations with habitat, especially rockfish and Atka mackerel, including male Atka mackerel nest-guarding activity.  Most recently his duties included coordinating the biennial Aleutian bottom trawl survey, and building a database of all micro-bathythermograph temperature/depth recordings gathered since 1993 during the AFSC Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska bottom trawl surveys.

Skipís future plans include extended stays in Brazil during the northern hemisphereís winter months, travel, summers in the Pacific Northwest, grandparenting, and the company of family and friends.

By Eric Brown

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