Fisheries Conservation

  • SERC research vessel

    Fishing for rays and sharks on the Potomac River for the Movement of Life Initiative (SERC/Jay Fleming)

  • Blue crabs support the most valuable fishery in Chesapeake Bay (SERC/Matt Ogburn)

  • River herring

    Monitoring River Herring spawning runs in tributaries of Chesapeake Bay (SERC/Matt Ogburn)

  • Choptank River oyster reef

    Working Land and Seascapes is exploring the ecology of oyster reefs in Chesapeake Bay (SERC/Keira Heggie)

  • Sampling underwater grasses

    Studying the ecology of submerged aquatic vegetation  for MarineGEO (SERC/Liana Quinones)

Principal Investigator

The Fisheries Conservation Lab investigates the ecology, management, and conservation of marine and estuarine fisheries. We depend on fisheries for many things including food, employment, recreational opportunities, and cultural identity, but fishing and aquaculture rank among the greatest human impacts on marine ecosystems. Finding a balance between harvest and conservation of fishery species and mitigating the impacts of fisheries on marine ecosystems will be key to sustaining productive, resilient, and biodiverse coastal and marine ecosystems for future generations.

Our interdisciplinary research focuses on providing the best scientific information available to inform fisheries management and conservation decision-making at scales from local communities to global institutions. We apply field and laboratory experiments, animal tracking technologies, models, long-term observational studies, and historical perspectives to address fisheries issues including sustainability of fished populations, altered food webs and trophic interactions, linkages between habitat and fisheries, invasive species, and climate change. We engage in collaborative research through:

For more information, check out our 2022 Annual Report.

SERC is hiring: 

Posted by Matt Ogburn on November 27, 2023

Oyster Restoration Engagement Internship (Spring 2024)

Deadline: December 8, 2023

Employment type: Full-time

Federal position?: No

Salary: $625 per week, onsite housing provided

Anticipated start date: February 2024

Duration: 12 weeks

Location: Edgewater, MD

Work model: Onsite


The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) is seeking an Oyster Restoration Engagement intern for Spring 2024. The intern will support a community-based oyster monitoring project at SERC.

A mutually agreeable start date will be determined with the selected applicant. We anticipate a start date in February 2024. This will be an in-person internship with work taking place in Edgewater, Maryland.

This intern will work with both the SERC Public Engagement team and Fisheries Conservation Lab to develop content and support data workflows for a community-based oyster restoration monitoring project based at SERC. This will involve managing and synthesizing data, creating digital content and videos, assisting with training workshop planning and coordination, and developing an independent project related to community-based oyster monitoring. Ideally, the intern will also have the opportunity to participate in fieldwork and lab work with the Fisheries Conservation Lab.

In addition to the independent project, the intern will be broadly exposed to and participate in SERC public engagement and research activities. Responsibilities may include creating website content, working with volunteers in the field on a variety of projects, engaging with K-12 students both at SERC and in classroom settings, interacting with SERC researchers, and communicating SERC research to members of the public through direct and virtual interactions.

Qualifications and Requirements

We are seeking applicants with some (but not necessarily all) of the following:

  • Experience with managing and analyzing environmental science data
  • Experience or interest in learning R programming
  • Experience developing videos, social media posts, and other digital communication products
  • Coursework and/or experience in ecology or environmental science
  • Interest and some understanding of environmental science research
  • Interest in communicating science to a variety of audiences
  • Ability to work independently
  • Ability to work as a part of an interdisciplinary team

How to Apply

To apply, please email a resume that highlights relevant experiences to Anna Davis (


Anna Davis


Understanding the ecology of fisheries is critical to maintaining resilient, productive and biodiverse coastal and marine ecosystems. Fishing is an important sector of coastal economies, provides an important supply of food for human societies, and is an activity of great cultural and historical importance. But fisheries have also contributed to the decline of coastal and marine ecosystems through changes in biomass and community structure, disruption of food webs, and alteration of habitats. Using the Chesapeake Bay as a model system, we are addressing fisheries issues including the impacts of harvest, restoration, and conservation on populations, communities and ecosystems, habitat use, migrations and connectivity with other coastal ecosystems. To learn more about our fisheries ecology and conservation research, please visit the following webpages:

Our long-term studies of fish and invertebrate communities in the Rhode River, Maryland study site offer a window in the community structure and population dynamics of fish and invertebrate communities in one of the most productive ecosystems on earth, the Chesapeake Bay. Spanning more than three decades, this research tracks seasonal, annual, and decadal variation in species composition and abundance of fishes and macro-invertebrates. Sampling methods include trawling, seining, a fish weir, benthic infauna cores, and tethering experiments. The long-term descriptive data, in combination with our experimental studies, provide an unusual database for exploring populations, communities, predator-prey relationships, impacts of fisheries, and impacts of environmental variability and climate change, and other ecological processes. To learn more about our long-term research, please follow the links below:

Many species on the planet migrate during their lifetime, using different habitats during specific life stages. What habitats are most important and why? How will climate change affect migrations? What are the benefits and costs of migration to individuals? How can we best manage fisheries for migratory species? How do migratory species affect community structure and ecological processes? To learn more about our Movement of Life Initiative research, please visit our Movement of Life Initiative webpage:

Welcome to the Educator Resources page-- below are a collection of lessons, web resources, and videos arranged by subject to help you quickly find resources in your interest area to create lesson plans or activities. Maryland follows the Next Generation Science Standards for K-12 science content standards. Access the Next Generation Science Standards broken down by topic at the National Science Teachers Association website.

Are you a teacher visiting SERC? Click here to learn more about how to prepare for your field trip to our campus and other general resources!

Discover, create, and share more resources and educational experiences on the Smithsonian Learning Lab!

Lesson: Movement of Life Initiative: Protecting Whales
Grade 3
NGSS, Computer Science Teachers Association Standards, ISTE Student Standards

Lesson: Movement of Life Initiative: Discover What Makes Sharks Move
Grade 4

Lesson: Sharks and Shorelines
Grades 6-10

Activity: Ecosystem Explorer | EARTH A New Wild
Grades 5-8

Reading/ Video: SERC’s Shorelines Blog "Following the Movement of Life: Tagging Sharks and Rays"
Grades 5-7

Reading/ Video: SERC’s Shorelines Blog "Tracking the Bay’s Cownose Rays"
Grades 5-7

For more information about shark migration, check out Smithsonian's Movement of Life Initiative!

Lesson: The Blue Crab's Chesapeake Journey
Grade 9-12

Video: SERC Scientists Video from the Smithsonian Science Education Center, “How do Scientists Track and Monitor blue Crab Populations in the Chesapeake Bay?
Grades 3-8




Video: SERC Ecosystems on the Edge video by one of our scientists, called “Blue Crabs: Top Predator in Peril”
Grades 3-8




Lesson: Juvenile Oyster Disease: A Growing Problem
Grade 9-12

Video: Determining the Resiliency of Juvenile Oysters in the Chesapeake Bay
Grade 3-8