JOSEPH, JAMES 1930 to 2009 Dr. James Joseph , Director of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) from 1969 to 1999, died suddenly on December 16, 2009. He was born in Los Angeles in 1930, the youngest of Paul and Julia Joseph's 13 children. After graduating from high school, he entered Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, where he obtained a B.S. degree in 1956 and an M.S. degree in 1958. He also served in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1954. He was hired by the IATTC in 1958, and spent the next two years in Manta, Ecuador, studying baitfishes and tagging tunas. Because of his obvious ability, he was named Principal Scientist of the IATTC in 1964. In 1967, he earned his PhD from the University of Washington, where he studied population dynamics, and in 1969, he became the Director of the IATTC, a post he held until his retirement in 1999. In 1958, he married Patricia Duffy, of Eureka, California, his life's sheet anchor; they had two sons, Jerry and Michael. For Dr. Joseph, fisheries conservation was not just a job, but a calling. His professional life was dedicated to the study, management, and conservation of marine resources, particularly the tuna stocks of the eastern Pacific Ocean. His tenure as Director of the IATTC was marked by great changes and upheavals in the fisheries for tuna, and his vision and leadership were a crucial factor in resolving the often contentious differences that arose among the countries, industries, and people involved. He commanded the highest respect and admiration for his extensive knowledge of all matters related to fisheries, his dedication, his fairness, and his extraordinary ability to get things done. He had the gift of finding the common ground among conflicting parties, and of bringing about consensus where none seemed possible. His reputation for unimpeachable probity made him perhaps the most widely respected and admired figure in international fisheries management. His uncanny knack for making everybody feel that they mattered, his ability to get along with a wide variety of people of every social, cultural, and national background, and his unique perspective on many matters may have reflected his eclectic background: his Lebanese ancestry, his upbringing in east Los Angeles, his experiences living abroad, and his constant and extensive travels all over the world. Jim thought, rightly, that in the complex world of fisheries conservation and management, in which many different parties - governments, fishers, processors, environmentalists, scientists - have an interest, no lasting solution was possible unless all parties were involved. Examples abound, but perhaps the most striking is the 1999 Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Program, Jim's swansong at the IATTC. This groundbreaking achievement, a model for all other fisheries conservation agreements, would have been impossible without his leadership, and is a testament to his vision, his persistence, and his constant conviction that doing the right thing in the right way is worth whatever effort it takes. Although the protection of dolphins was a major concern for the IATTC, Jim never lost sight of its principal responsibility, the study and conservation of tunas. During his tenure, the IATTC staff pioneered methods for stock assessment of tunas - the population dynamics of yellowfin tuna in the eastern Pacific are probably better understood than those of any other tuna stock in the world - and the IATTC's Achotines Laboratory in Panama was established, and became a world leader in research into the biology of tunas. Dr. Joseph served on numerous advisory groups dealing with marine science and conservation, in the United States and elsewhere, including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Department of Commerce, and Department of the Interior, the United Nations, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. He also served as a technical advisor to many organizations and institutions, national and international. He lectured widely at conventions, universities , and institutions all over the world, published numerous papers and articles in scholarly and trade journals, and co-authored three books. After his retirement in 1999, Dr. Joseph, with an energy and enthusiasm that would be the envy of people half his age, continued to serve as advisor and consultant to governments, international organizations, and private and public institutions. At the time of his death, he was Chairman of the Science Committee of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, an organization which he was instrumental in establishing and which reflected his approach of bringing all parties together to resolve the problems of marine resource conservation. Dr. Joseph was an affiliate professor at the University of Washington and at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. His many awards and honors include the Distinguished Alumnus Award, Humboldt State University; Outstanding Achievement Award for Contributions to Marine Science, Portuguese Historical Society, San Diego; Outstanding Graduate in Fisheries, Humboldt State University; Nautilus Award, Marine Technological Society; Dave Wallace Award, Nautilus Press, Inc.; Docteur Honoris Causa, Universite de Bretagne, France; Roger Revelle Award, San Diego Oceans Foundation; Al Merito Pesquero Award, Ministry of Commerce of Ecuador; Condecoracion del Orden Antonio Jose de Sucre, Government of Venezuela. In addition, the IATTC received the Carl L. Sullivan Fishery Conservation Award of the American Fisheries Society in 1994. Jim's work left him less time than he would have liked for other activities, but he would always make time for his two abiding passions: first and foremost, his family - he was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather - and the outdoors, where his adventures would often make for great stories afterwards. He is survived by his wife, Pat, sons Jerry and Michael, daughters-in-law Teri and Miranda, grandchildren, Thai, Chae, Judah, Kyra , and Brian; his brothers John, Paul, and Raymond; his sisters Anne, Maxine, and Virginia; and by friends without number all over the world. Jim was an inspiration to everyone who knew him, and his passing is a tremendous loss not only to his family and his myriad of friends and colleagues, but to fisheries science and conservation. "He was a man, take him for all in all, We shall not look upon his like again." In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the James Joseph Scholarship Endowment at Humboldt State University, Gift Processing Center, 1 Harpst Street, Arcata, CA 95521-8299.
Published by San Diego Union-Tribune on Dec. 22, 2009.