Tyburczy (pronounced tuh-BUR-zee) is California Sea Grant Extension’s northernmost Coastal Specialist and is based in Eureka (in the same building as Englund Marine). He is also an adjunct in the Department of Biological Sciences at Humboldt State University and a charter member of the Humboldt Marine and Coastal Science Institute. He is focused on conducting collaborative, applied research to fill gaps in knowledge that will promote sustainable use of marine resources, environmental conservation, and long-term security and prosperity of coastal communities – especially those along the North Coast. Tyburczy fills the position of longtime Sea Grant Extension Advisor Susan Schlosser who retired in 2012.
Tyburczy is a marine ecologist interested in understanding the effects on species and ecosystems of environmental changes (especially climate) and of policy and management decisions. His current research efforts are focused in two general areas: collaborative fisheries research and broader ecosystem research.
Collaborative fisheries research
Tyburczy’s collaborative fisheries research involves working with fishermen as well as other scientists to better characterize fish populations, investigate the effects of marine protected areas (MPAs), and reduce fisheries impacts on seabirds. Along with colleagues at Humboldt State, charter fishermen, and volunteer anglers, he is conducting baseline sampling of fish assemblages on rocky reefs inside and outside of newly created North Coast MPAs. This work is similar to and will produce data compatible with the California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program (led by Dr. Rick Starr and Dr. Dean Wendt) on Central Coast MPAs, as well as monitoring of Oregon MPAs by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Tyburczy is also involved in a seabird bycatch reduction project, led by collaborators at Washington Sea Grant and Oregon State University. For this project, researchers are working with black cod (sablefish) longline fishermen to determine the most effective, least cumbersome methods for reducing bycatch of albatrosses and other seabirds, including the endangered short-tailed albatross. This project will benefit not only seabirds, but fishermen as well: they will lose less bait to seabirds, and their fishery will be protected from the potential of additional regulation that could arise unless bycatch of short-tailed albatross is kept to almost zero (a maximum of two every two years for the entire West Coast).
Another area of interest is Pacific halibut and the sport fishery it supports in northern California, the southern extent of this species’ range. He has worked with a local fishing group, Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers (HASA) to sponsor research by a Humboldt State graduate student to examine the size-at-age of Pacific halibut caught by sport fishermen off Humboldt County. You can read about this project and its findings in this HASA newsletter. Expanding on this work, Tyburczy is again partnering with HASA as well as the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to assist another Humboldt State graduate student with a survey local businesses to assess the economic impact of the closure of the Pacific halibut sport fishery in California for the month of August 2014. This combination of biological and economic data should help inform decisions about whether current allocations should be revisited, and whether similar closures can be avoided in the future.
He has also lent a hand to a UC Davis’ California Lost Fishing Gear Removal Project that is working with North Coast fishermen to recover lost crab pots. Retrieving these pots has many benefits: it eliminates the hazard they pose to navigation, ensures that they do not continue to catch and kill crabs (“ghost fishing”), reduces pollution, and importantly saves fishermen money by returning their gear.