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Western Fisheries Research Center 2023-2027 Strategic Plan

Detailed Description

Message from the Director

It’s been nearly 90 years since the Western Fisheries Research Center (WFRC) was formed. Since the 1930s, we have evolved from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service center for managing disease in Pacific Coast fish hatcheries to a major force in aquatic ecology within the Ecosystem Mission Area of the U.S. Geological Survey.1

We are now internationally known for our work to understand and address aquatic diseases; a critical player in science and cutting-edge decision support model development to improve water infrastructure management for safe fish passage, expanding critical habitat, and improving water quality; an untangler of complex food webs to isolate primary impacts to threatened fish; and a dot connector between a variety of human stressors and the processes driving aquatic ecosystem health.

Now more than ever society needs strong science to guide decision making. The combined impacts of rapid climate change and unwavering human population growth are threatening our natural resources and humanity. We must implement a robust ecological science strategy, one that is focused on supporting agile management that can adjust to a changing ecosystem, protects our water and the critical species that call it home (many of which we rely on for food), and prevents public health and economic crises.

Our strategic plan establishes a framework for WFRC over the next five years. Working with national leadership and our broad suite of partners, we have identified the following goals to provide the science and innovation needed to recover, maintain, and sustainably utilize our fish and their aquatic ecosystems:

  • Understand, detect, and reduce the impacts of disease and invasive species
  • Provide the science to improve water management for fish and people
  • Integrate food web ecology into species management
  • Understand the effects of human population growth on aquatic ecosystems in our region

Our success depends on stronger partnerships, increased recognition of our role in providing the science needed for ecosystem management, new skills and technologies, well-operating facilities, a greater focus on environmental justice, and a robust science support team. We must also meet the needs of our workforce: improving our financial position; providing contemporary job flexibility; and ensuring diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility are integrated into our workplace.

We are up to the task, and we are confident that our work will make a difference.

Michael Schmidt, Western Fisheries Research Center Director


1Seventy-five years of science—The U.S. Geological Survey’s Western Fisheries Research Center. 2013. General Information Product 149.


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