Fish Radio
University expands fisheries degrees and distance delivery to rural Alaska
November 18, 2016

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Fisheries degree programs expand and more outreach to remote regions. More after this —                  uaf

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Since 1987, the College of Fisheries and Ocean Science at the University of Fairbanks has offered degrees in Fisheries Science.

“A degree path preparing students for what I call fish squeezers – they’re going to go to work for the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, or NOAA or the Fish and Wildlife Service or some other type of agency where they’re going to be out doing field work primarily – Traditional fish biologist types.”  

Trent Sutton is a biology professor and Associate Dean of Academics. Due to student interest, the college changed the degree to a Bachelor’s in Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.   That means undergrad’s can now take oceanography and marine biology classes previously offered only to graduate students.

 “And they either go the fisheries path or the ocean sciences path and we just started that this fall.”

The college also is a center for  ocean acidification studies, which is a big student draw.

“You hear of all the concerns regarding climate change and marine mammals and fisheries and ocean acidification and sea ice – all of those increase awareness of these types of issues and concerns that are out there and it certainly garners interest from students as well. 8  Because there are opportunities for jobs down the road to deal with the concerns that people have. “ 

The College plans next year to offer its bachelor degree classes to more Alaska campuses via distance delivery. It also is the only school in the nation to offer a bachelor of arts in fisheries.

“So students who might not want to be the fish squeezer types but are interested in seafood sciences and technology, is one avenue, or students may be interested in marine policy.”  

Another  focus is rural and community development where students can get the degree at home.

“They don’t even have to leave that community. A student in Bethel or Dillingham or Nome or Barrow can stay home and take 100 percent of their courses either through video conferences or online or some other distance technology and get a degree that is tied to fisheries and it will help them become leaders in that community when it comes back to what they are doing for a career.”  

One thing fisheries and ocean science grads can count on in Alaska is a good job – state and federal are in dire need of trained workers –

“Forty percent of the NOAA and ADF&G employees are UAF graduates, maybe as high as 50 percent.2 So these students are not only staying in the state but working for these agencies that are making the management and policy decisions that impact our fisheries and marine sources.

The College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences has produced nearly 700 graduates over 30 years. Find links at  our website

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. ( In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.