The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission has a new leader of its Fishery Science Department, the CRITFC announced on December 12.
Zachary L. Penney, Nez Perce, succeeds Phil Roger, who has retired after 34 years, and will begin on March 2, the CRITFC said. The organization’s largest department consists of 45 scientists and support staff in various locations, including the main offices in Portland, Oregon; the Hagerman Genetics Lab in Idaho, and a research cooperative with the University of Idaho in Moscow, the CRITFC said in a statement.
The Fishery Science Department works to add to the scientific knowledge base about the Columbia Basin habitat and the fish that live there, via research that is shared at the tribal, state and federal level.
One of Penney’s mandates is to increase the profile of tribal scientific accomplishments, the CRITFC said, as well as planning, implementing and improving technical projects and programs throughout the Columbia River Basin.
With a Ph.D. in natural resources from the University of Idaho and an ample background in fisheries management and policy, Penney has worked with tribal and federal agencies as well as academia, the CRITFC said. He also earned a Master’s degree in Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria and his Bachelor’s degree in Aquatic Resources at Sheldon Jackson College.
Penney has spent the past year as a NOAA Sea Grant Knauss Fellow in the office of Representative Jared Huffman (D-California, District 2) in the U.S. House of Representatives. He said his passion for both fishing and education, as well as the juxtaposition of traditional and modern scientific knowledge, would dovetail nicely in the new position, which he will start on March 2.
“Growing up, my parents and elders instilled in me the importance of fishing and education,” Penney said in the CRITFC statement. “I’m excited to bring these passions to benefit the Columbia River Treaty Tribes and culturally significant species like salmon and lamprey. Tribal culture tells us why salmon are important, and science can tell us how to best help them. As we further the scientific understanding of fish and the habitats in which they live, we can improve the recovery efforts of Columbia Basin salmon.”
“The CRITFC organization is thrilled to have Dr. Penney as a member of our management team,” said CRITFC Executive Director Paul Lumley. “His energy and passion for fisheries will be a great asset in the tribes’ efforts to put fish back in the rivers and restore the watersheds where fish live.”