Ray Hilborn

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Ray Hilborn
Ray Hilborn.JPG
Known forHis critiques of Daniel Pauly
AwardsFellow of the Royal Society of Canada
Volvo Environment Prize (2006)
Scientific career
FieldsMarine biology, fisheries science
InstitutionsUniversity of Washington

Ray Hilborn (born 1947) is a marine biologist and fisheries scientist, known for his work on conservation and natural resource management in the context of fisheries. He is currently professor of aquatic and fishery science at the University of Washington. He focuses on conservation, natural resource management, fisheries stock assessment and risk analysis, and advises several international fisheries commissions and agencies.[1][2]


Ray Hilborn has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers, and several books.

In 1992, Hilborn coauthored Quantitative fisheries stock assessment with Carl Walters. In 1997, he coauthored The Ecological Detective: Confronting Models with Data with Marc Mangel. In 2012, he coauthored Overfishing: what everyone needs to know with Ulrike Hilborn.

With Carl Walters, he jointly received the Wildlife Society award for best paper in fish ecology and management: Walters, C.J. and Hilborn R. 1976. "Adaptive control of fishing systems", Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada, 33(1): 145-159.

In 2006, he shared the Volvo Environment Prize with Daniel Pauly and Carl Walters.[3] He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.[4]

In 2011, he received the Ecological Society of America's Sustainability Science Award for a 2009 paper with Boris Worm and others entitled Rebuilding global fisheries, Science 325:578-585.

In 2016 he received the International Fisheries Science Prize at the World Fisheries Congress in Busan, South Korea. The award recognized his 40-year career of “highly diversified research and publication in support of global fisheries science and conservation,” according to a news release.

His major areas of current and past research interest include "Bayesian analysis of decision making in natural resources, adaptive management of renewable resources, the dynamics of the Serengeti ecosystem in east Africa, the role of hatcheries in management of Pacific salmon, the ability of institutions to learn from experience, statistical methods in testing dynamic ecological hypotheses, the analysis of migration and dispersal from mark–recapture data, and the ecological dynamics of fishing fleets."[1]

Research in Fisheries Management[edit]

In their research, Hilborn and Walters investigated the ways that dynamic models can be used to manage fisheries in order to maintain states of optimum equilibrium. In their paper,[5] they examined the effectiveness of using the Ricker and Beverton-Holt models to estimate the potential yield of future generations by using data taken from prior generations. They addressed the problem that, in regards to fisheries, the parameters of the control system are often either varied or uncertain and the use of historical data becomes progressively more unreliable as it gets older. Variables, regarding these issues, include natural mortality and spawning rates as well the effects of human fishing, as a predator-prey relationship. Influenced by control theory, Hilborn and Walters modified the original models with various new formulae to create alternative models, in order to achieve more accurate predictions. They then identified “a series of alternative harvesting experiments… each of which would be reasonably certain to discriminate between the alternative models…”[6] The development of these alternative models and harvesting methods has been invaluable in assessing the sustainability of the world's fisheries.

Hilborn’s research “aims to identify how to best manage fisheries to provide sustainable benefits to human society. This involves a combination of building data bases on how fisheries are managed and measures of their performance.”[7] He has contributed extensively to The Ram Legacy database[8] which “provides estimates of status indicators such as biomass, fishing mortality rates, and associated reference points, and is the most quantitatively robust source of fishery status available.”[9] Hilborn's efforts attempt to strike a balance between resource sustainability for the environment and food and nutrition security for human beings. When it comes to large scale management of fisheries, he contends that there is “no single solution, and what is appropriate for one community for a specific species may be totally different for another species or community”[10] According to Hilborn, successful management strategies involve a combination of limiting access to fisheries, maintaining biological productivity and the cooperation of all stakeholders involved.



  1. ^ a b Ray Hilborn Archived 2010-02-07 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Hilborn, Ray 1947- WorldCat Identities. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  3. ^ http://www.environment-prize.com/
  4. ^ http://www.rsc.ca/index.php
  5. ^ Adaptive Control of Fishing Systems. 1975
  6. ^ Walters, Carl; Hilborn, Ray (September 1975). "Adaptive Control of Fishing Systems": 19.
  7. ^ Hilborn, Ray. https://fish.uw.edu/faculty/ray-hilborn/.
  8. ^ http://ramlegacy.org//
  9. ^ Hilborn, Ray; Ovado, Daniel (14 March 2014). "Food for Thought: Reflections on the success of traditional fisheries management". ICES Journal of Marine Science (2014). 71 (5). doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsu034.
  10. ^ Hilborn, Ray. "Knowledge on How To Achieve Sustainable Fisheries": 53.


External links[edit]