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Wilf Swartz, Fisheries Economist

If you're wondering how someone ends up studying fisheries economics, here's a brief glimpse into one of the pathways...


My parents are from opposite sides of the Pacific and I was born in Toronto, Canada only to move to Japan at the age of three. My family spent the next ten years in and around Tokyo, which provided me with endless adventuring in my grandparent's rice fields, not to mention a sincere appreciation for seafood. When I was thirteen, we moved back to Canada (Vancouver this time) and I began learning English and discovering the equally entertaining world of the westcoast.


I did my undergrad in Marine Biology at UBC, but it wasn't until my fourth year ichthyiology class that I really found a passion for learning about marine life. The class lecturer was none other than Daniel Pauly, and the simple elegance of his explanations of our impact on the ocean (e.g. Fishing Down Marine Food Webs) quickly got me hooked on the subject as well. This led to a summer position at the Sea Around Us Project in the last year of my undergrad and the realization that I ultimately wanted to continue my education in fisheries.


After university, I decided that as much as I'd enjoyed my studies, I still needed a bit of a break from academics. I chose to return to Japan and spent two years in Fukoka as a Coordinator of International Relations with the JET Program. From there, I went back to BC in the fall of 2002 to start a MSc. at the Fisheries Centre with Daniel. 


My Masters focused on the historical development of the fish aquisition strategies (i.e. fishing and seafood trade) in Japan. Again, choosing to broadening my cultural horizons, I took another hiatus from my scholastic endeavours and spent three years in London, England working as a risk analysist for Chuo Mitsui Trust then Nomura International, two Japanese investment banks. 


I realized I didn't want to spend the rest of my life crunching numbers, so in 2007, I came back across the Pond to count fish instead. My time abroad made me realize that economic incentives are actually pretty powerful drivers in life, and the only way to achive sustainable fisheries is to understand the way people think about consuming seafood. So, under the supervision of Rashid Sumaila, I completed a PhD in Fisheries Economics (see Research for details of my four and half year struggle to produce Five Not So Easy Piece...a.k.a my thesis).


And that's one way a kid from Tokyo becomes a fisheries economist in Vancouver.




Nowadays, I work as a post-doc with the Nereus Program at the Fisheries Centre  (again, see Research for deets). Other than fish and numbers, I take great joy in baking bread, boxing, drinking local coffee in foreign lands, and reading a combination of Shiba Ryotaro, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Joseph Stiglitz. 

Fife Sound, BC
Abisco, Sweden
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