Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

James H Johnson, PhD

James Johnson is a Scientist Emeritus based out of Cortland, NY.

My professional interests span both fisheries management and research which I attribute to a career spent working in both areas. On the management side, I especially enjoy working with Native American Tribes in helping them develop their fisheries programs. From a research perspective, I am particularly interested in the restoration of native fishes.

My interest in fisheries traces back to my early years spent on the St. Lawrence River with my great grandfather who fished commercially for lake sturgeon and other species near Ogdensburg, NY. I remember spending hours at a time in his live fish enclosure where he kept his catch, most likely annoying the heck out of the 4 – 6 ft  sturgeon I was chasing around while American eels slithered around my legs. This was of course pre-Seaway, and now both of these species have greatly declined in the river and throughout much of their native range. I have been fortunate to be able to work on the restoration of both lake sturgeon and American eel, as well as other St. Lawrence River species as a member of the Fish Advisory Committee that oversees the fish mitigation funds for the upper river that came about from the FERC re-licensing process for the operation of the main stem dam at Massena, NY. My other interest in native fish restoration involves salmonids and heralds back to the decade I spent in the Pacific Northwest with the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho and the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife knee deep in issues associated to the restoration of Pacific salmon and steelhead. My tour with the Nez Perce also began what has become over three decades of work with tribes, spanning coast – to – coast, helping them develop their fisheries programs.

Professional Experience

  • January 1998-Present – Eastern Great Lakes Branch Chief, USGS-Cortland, NY

  • July 1994-December 1997 – Laboratory Director, Tunison Laboratory of Aquatic Science, USGS-Cortland, NY

  • September 1989-July 1994 – Fish Ecology Section Leader, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wellsboro, PA

  • July 1984-September 1989 – Freshwater Program Manager, Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, Portland, OR

  • June 1980-July 1984 – Director, Fisheries Dept., Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho, Lapwai, ID

  • February 1978-May1980 – Senior Aquatic Ecologist, New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY

  • September 1973-June 1976 – Fish Biologist, Lake Ontario Environmental Laboratory, Oswego, NY

Education and Certifications

  • Ph.D. (Fisheries Science) SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY, 1993

  • M.S. (Fisheries Science) SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY, 1978

  • B.S. (Fisheries Management) University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, 1973

Science and Products