Australian Society For Fish Biology

Pamela Mace

Dr Pamela Mace has carried out extensive research in computer modelling, fisheries science and population dynamics for a large variety of commercially-exploited fish and invertebrates in New Zealand and overseas for over 30 years since the award of her doctorate in 1983.

A graduate from Canterbury University, Pamela completed her PhD at the University of British Columbia, Canada. She then completed a 3 year Postdoctoral fellowship in Halifax, Nova Scotia before returning to New Zealand to work as a stock assessment scientist at MAF Fisheries Research Division in Wellington (now NIWA). During that time Pamela made a significant breakthrough in validating the longevity of orange roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus); leading the first research voyage to successfully capture and identify juvenile orange roughy (photo below).      

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Pamela Mace (2nd from left) was voyage leader on the 1988 Otago Buccaneer research voyage that discovered juvenile orange roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) to the northeast of the Chatham Islands at depths of about 800 m. Pamela is credited as being the first human to ever hold a baby orange roughy

Pamela was instrumental in the initial formulation of stock assessment processes to support the impending implementation of the Quota Management System, the working group/plenary format and concepts of BMSY (Biomass associated with maximum sustainable yield), and had a major role in the development of the first fisheries research database, in a short space of 3 years. In late 1988 she went to the US to work as an ever increasingly high profile scientist at NMFS, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, both at the Washington, DC Head Office and in Woods Hole, MA, ending up as the NMFS National Stock Assessment Coordinator. During that time she also remained in close contact with the stock assessment working groups in New Zealand, and continued to carry out consultation work for the New Zealand government on fisheries.


In 1996 Pamela gave the invited Keynote address at the Second World Fisheries Congress in Brisbane. Pamela describes speaking at this event as being a turning point in her career in that it caused her to take a more holistic, global approach to fisheries, which she pursues to this day.

In 2002 Pamela received the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrator’s Individual Achievements award for reaching important programme objectives in the advancement of fisheries science and resource assessment.

Pamela has been an invited member/chair or convener of a wide range of prestigious committees and international groups; e.g. Food and Agriculture Organisation, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora, International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, International Commission for the Exploration of the Sea, National Centre for Ecosystem Analysis and Synthesis, South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation, and various National Marine Fisheries Service and academic panels. Since her return to New Zealand in 2004, Pamela contributed significantly to fisheries science at a very senior level in the Ministry of Fisheries, first as a Special Projects Scientist then, starting in 2005, as Chief Scientist.

Since the merger of the Ministry of Fisheries into the new Ministry for Primary Industries in 2011, Pamela has been Principal Advisor Fisheries Science. She has continued to take part in international working groups, including the group that was convened with Boris Worm and Ray Hilborn to examine and apply a rigorous analysis to the controversial work on the status of fisheries published by Worm et al. in 2006. Domestically, Pamela’s research interests have focused on deepwater fisheries, endangered marine species, stock assessment methods, and best practice fisheries management approaches.

Pamela’s two most recent achievement are the ground breaking Harvest Strategy Standard for New Zealand Fisheries (which provides formal guidance as to how fisheries law will be applied in practice in New Zealand) and the Research and Science Information Standard for New Zealand Fisheries (which provides guidance on standards for the conduct and reporting of research to inform fisheries management). She conceived and guided to publication a special edition of the Report from the New Zealand Fisheries Assessment Plenary Meeting in 2015 to mark the 30th anniversary of the first such report. This year, 2016, she will also be centre stage as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of New Zealand's Quota Management System, a system that relies heavily on the robust science that Pamela has worked so hard for so many years to deliver.

Recent achievements:

  • Appointed as the MPI Principal – Lead Scientist for marine science, 18 Nov 2015
  • Convenor of the University of Victoria Chair of Fisheries Science Advisory Committee
  • Appointed member of New Zealand’s CITES Science Advisory Board (led by DOC); ongoing appointment since 2006
    • Invited Science Advisory Council member for the European Union’s “MYFISH project to identify MSY variants for use in fisheries management”, funded by the European Commission
    • Invited keynote speaker and symposium coordinator at joint MYFISH/ICES Symposium on Targets and Limits for Long Term Fisheries Management held in Athens, Greece, 26-31 Oct: presentation was entitled “The journey to set targets and limits in fisheries management”
    • Invited participant in a series of National Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) workshops to address the issue of: “Measuring the status of fisheries and factors leading to success”; attended the first and second four-day meetings  in Santa Barbara, California, 13-16 Jan and 5-8 Nov 2015
    • Received an ICES Service Award on 15 Dec 2015 for her role as an invited Chair for the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) Benchmark Assessment of Icelandic and Greenland cod and capelin stocks, Copenhagen, Denmark, held 26-30 Jan 2015

Selected  publications

Mace, Pamela M. (1994). Relationships between common biological reference points used as thresholds and targets of fisheries management strategies. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 51: 110-122. Cited 448 times.

Mace, Pamela M., and Michael P. Sissenwine (1993). How much spawning per recruit is enough? Canadian Special Publication of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences: 101-118. Cited 368 times.

Mace, Pamela M. (2001). A new role for MSY in single-species and ecosystem approaches to fisheries stock assessment and management. Fish and Fisheries): 2-32. Cited 279 times.

Browman, Howard I., Philippe M. Cury, Ray Hilborn, Simon Jennings, Heike K. Lotze, Pamela M. Mace, Steven Murawski et al. (2004). Ecosystem-based management. Marine Ecology Progress Series 274: 269-303. Cited 256 times.

Myers, R. A., A. A. Rosenberg, P. M. Mace, N. Barrowman, and V. R. Restrepo (1994). In search of thresholds for recruitment overfishing. ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal du Conseil 51: 191-205. Cited 176 times.

Mace, Pamela M, and I. J. Doonan (1998). A generalised bioeconomic simulation model for fish population dynamics. MAF Fisheries, NZ Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, 1988. Cited 149 times.

Gabriel, Wendy L., and Pamela M. Mace (1999). A review of biological reference points in the context of the precautionary approach." In Proceedings of the fifth national NMFS stock assessment workshop: providing scientific advice to implement the precautionary approach under the Magnuson-Stevens fishery conservation and management act. NOAA Tech Memo NMFS-F/SPO-40, pp. 34-45. Cited 112 times.

Mace, Pamela M., Jack M. Fenaughty, Ralph P. Coburn, and Ian J. Doonan (1990). Growth and productivity of orange roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) on the north Chatham Rise. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 24: 105-119. Cited 103 times.

Sissenwine, Michael P., and Pamela M. Mace (2003). Governance for Responsible Fisheries: an Ecosystem Approach. Responsible Fisheries in the Marine Ecosystem: p 363. Cited 95 times.

Mace, Pamela M. (2004). In defence of fisheries scientists, single-species models and other scapegoats: confronting the real problems: Perspectives on eco-system-based approaches to the management of marine resources. Marine Ecology Progress Series 274: 285-291. Cited 93 times.

Sissenwine, Michael P. and Pamela M. Mace (1992). ITQs in New Zealand: the era of fixed quota in perpetuity. Fishery Bulletin 90: 147-160. Cited 89 times.

Worm, Boris, Ray Hilborn, Julia K. Baum, Trevor A. Branch, Jeremy S. Collie, Christopher Costello, Michael J. Fogarty Elizabeth A. Fulton, Jeffrey A. Hutchings, Simon Jennings, Olaf P. Jensen, Heike K. Lotze, Pamela M. Mace, Tim R. McClanahan, Cóilín Minto, Stephen R. Palumbi, Ana M. Parma, Daniel Ricard, Andrew A. Rosenberg, Reg Watson, Dirk Zeller (2009). Rebuilding global fisheries. Science 325: 578-585. Cited 1195 times.

Mace, Pamela M., Kevin J. Sullivan, and Martin Cryer (2014). The evolution of New Zealand's fisheries science and management systems under ITQs. ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal du Conseil 71: 204-215. Cited 14 times.

Sissenwine, Michael P., Pamela M. Mace, and Hans J. Lassen. (2014). Preventing overfishing: evolving approaches and emerging challenges. ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal du Conseil 71: 153-156. Cited 4 times.

Martin Cryer, Pamela M Mace, Kevin J. Sullivan (2016). New Zealand’s ecosystem approach to fisheries management. Fisheries Oceanography in press.