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Brian Watson (’98) earns American Fisheries Society chapter professional award


   

John Copeland, left, and Brian Watson Brian Watson, right, receives the Eugene W. Surber Professional Fisheries Scientist Award from alumnus John Copeland, past president of the Virginia Chapter of the American Fisheries Society and a past recipient of the award.


May 15, 2015 – The Virginia Chapter of the American Fisheries Society honored Brian Watson (’98 M.S. fisheries science) with the Eugene W. Surber Professional Fisheries Scientist Award at its annual meeting, held at Virginia Tech in February.

Watson serves as the aquatic invertebrate project leader for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Stationed in Forest, he coordinates research and management of nongame aquatic invertebrate resources statewide, including threatened and endangered freshwater mussels and crayfish.

Watson was heavily involved in establishing the state’s mussel propagation facility at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery in Charles City. It is the only Virginia facility raising freshwater mussels for re-introduction into Virginia rivers draining into the Atlantic Ocean. He also chairs the Atlantic Slope Mussel Restoration Group, an interagency organization dedicated to the conservation, management, and restoration of rare freshwater mussels in the Atlantic Slope of Virginia.

As a nationally recognized expert on aquatic invertebrates, Watson recently traveled to China at the invitation of the Chinese government to provide his expertise on mussel conservation.

“It is a huge honor to receive the Eugene W. Surber Professional Fisheries Scientist Award from the Virginia Chapter American Fisheries Society,” Watson said. “While the conservation work I have done in Virginia over the past 12-plus years has never been with awards in mind, it is gratifying to know that my peers recognize the work that I have done, especially considering the numerous others that could have received this award given the work they have done over their careers.

“I have been doing freshwater mussel work since 1995, initially as a graduate student at Virginia Tech, then as a biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and, since 2002, with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Most of my work with mussels pertains to status surveys and related conservation activities, though over the past 8 years I have been heavily involved more specifically with the propagation of mussels. I never intended to work with mussels when I was looking at graduate programs in 1995, but after nearly 20 years of working with these fascinating critters, I cannot imagine myself doing anything else.”



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