Mike Wilberg earns award for science and communication on oyster management

June 1, 2020

Professor Michael Wilberg was awarded the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s President’s Award for Excellence in Application of Science for his ongoing and impactful efforts on the science and outstanding communication of oyster management with stakeholders, partners, and policymakers. A professor in fisheries science at UMCES’ Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in Southern Maryland, he works on understanding population dynamics and management of a range of fish and shellfish species, including oysters and blue crabs.

Oysters are iconic in Maryland and critically important to the culture and the recovery of Chesapeake Bay. Building on the rich tradition of UMCES in fisheries management, Wilberg was invited to lead the first stock assessment done for the State of Maryland 135 years. The assessment was conducted collaboratively with scientists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and resulted in estimates of the abundance and levels of sustainable exploitation to help guide policy on oyster management.

“It is not just about doing great science, it is about communicating that great science to be effective,” said President Peter Goodwin. “He is the textbook example of where the delivery of scientific facts stop and value judgements start on complex and contentious issues.”

Wilberg was also lead modeler for the OysterFutures research program, an experiment in consensus building and testing a new approach for making regulations and policies.

He is recognized as an international expert on stock assessment and has served as technical adviser to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, the International Whaling Commission, and South Africa in developing their fisheries management plans.

The President's Award for Excellence in Application of Science was established in 1999 to honor exemplary applications of science that have had a positive impact on environmental protection and management by UMCES faculty members.