UI Professor, Fisheries Expert Earns National Conservation Award

Wednesday, September 11 2013

MOSCOW, Idaho — For more than 23 years Dennis Scarnecchia has researched some of the world’s oldest fish, including paddlefish and sturgeon. Now, he’s reeling in national recognition.

His work at the University of Idaho will be rewarded in September, as he receives the Fisheries Management Sections Award of Excellence from the American Fisheries Societies at its annual meeting in Little Rock, Ark.

Scarnecchia has been a faculty member at the University of Idaho College of Natural Resources’ Department of Fish and Wildlife Science since 1990 and has maintained this research project during that time.

“It is not common for university faculty to maintain a research program for more than 20 years with the same funding agencies,” Scarnecchia said. “They don’t renew it automatically. They renew it because we are giving them something they can use.”

Scarnecchia’s interest in prehistoric fish began in 1990 when he volunteered to monitor a paddlefish snag fishery on the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers of western North Dakota and Eastern Montana. The fishery was largely unregulated and harvest management decisions were made with little scientific backing. The result of his work was a sustainable model of fish management.

Scarnecchia worked for the conservation of ESA-listed salmonids in the Columbia River basin for nearly 30 years. He has worked with salmon research as far away as Iceland.

“Dr. Scarnecchia’s distinguished award from the American Fisheries Society recognizes his lifelong commitment to the sustainable management of our fisheries resources,” said Kurt Pregitzer, dean of the College of Natural Resources. “Dennis has been involved with fisheries management in many of the great American river systems, such as the Missouri, Yellowstone and Columbia drainages.”

Most recently, Scarnecchia has served on the Independent Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB), an independent scientific panel recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. This board provides significant input to fish conservation, management and research in the Pacific Northwest.

The American Fisheries Society is a national organization tasked with improving the conservation and sustainability of fish and aquatic ecosystems.
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Media Contact: Jodi Walker, College of Natural Resources, (208) 885-2737, jwalker@uidaho.edu