Fellowship Awarded to VA Student Studying Behavior of Bluefin Tuna Anglers

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Fellowship Awarded to VA Student Studying Behavior of Bluefin Tuna Anglers

This summer, Virginia Institute of Marine Science student Willy Goldsmith will address the issue of rebuilding the population of Atlantic bluefin tuna by examining the motivations and values of the anglers targeting the species.

By Emma Fass, Summer Science Writing Intern

Recreational fishermen from Maine to North Carolina commonly target Atlantic bluefin tuna despite its overfished status.

Willy Goldsmith says that by having a more thorough understanding of the factors influencing behavior and decision-making of these anglers, fishery managers can better balance conservation measures with socioeconomic objectives.

This summer, Goldsmith will begin a two-year National Marine Fisheries Service-Sea Grant Marine Resource Economics Fellowship. He and his National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) mentor, Dr. Kristy Wallmo, will address the issue of rebuilding the population of Atlantic bluefin tuna by examining the motivations and values of the anglers targeting the species.

Willy Goldsmith. ©Janet Krenn/VASG

Willy Goldsmith. ©Janet Krenn/VASG

“This project will advance understanding of Atlantic bluefin tuna recreational angler behavior, values, and preferences, helping to guide U.S. fisheries management in maximizing angler welfare and economic benefit while maintaining catches within prescribed limits,” Goldsmith says.

Goldsmith will design and disseminate surveys that address the motivations of anglers. Responses to the surveys will be modeled to determine the importance of different fishing-related attributes, like harvest regulations or fish size, to bluefin tuna anglers along the U.S. east coast. The findings of this study will be shared with the NFMS Highly Migratory Species Management Division and other fishery managers, as well as with researchers and recreational fishermen.

“I’m thrilled to have been granted the means to conduct my dissertation research through this fellowship,” he says. He is looking forward to working closely with his NMFS mentor and other NMFS-Sea Grant fellows to gain a broader appreciation for the insights into effective fisheries management that economic approaches can unveil. Goldsmith sees himself pursuing a career dealing with complex fisheries problems in the future.

Goldsmith graduated from Harvard University in 2010 and is currently a PhD student at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

The NMFS-Sea Grant Fellowship Program in Marine Resource Economics supports Ph.D. students who are interested in careers related to the economics of the conservation and management of living marine resources. Each Fellow will be required to work closely with an expert from NMFS who may provide data for the Fellow’s thesis, serve on the Fellow’s committee, and host an annual summer internship at the participating NMFS facility.