Bob Fujimura spent his entire career with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. From 1987 until his retirement in late 2018, Fujimura served in a variety of roles at the department—but he is likely best known for heading up its long-term monitoring of native fishes in the Bay and Delta. Beginning in the mid-2000s, he oversaw annual smelt surveys with far-reaching implications for management and conservation, including the Spring Kodiak Trawl, which determines the relative abundance and distribution of spawning Delta smelt; the Smelt Larva Survey, which provides near real-time distribution data for longfin smelt larvae; and the 20mm Survey, which tracks post-larval juvenile Delta smelt throughout their historical spring range. “My goal was to provide good science throughout my career,” Fujimura says. “Most of the time, we were there to answer particular questions about factors key to fish abundance and survival. I just thought it was really great to be part of that data gathering.” Fujimura joined the department straight out of Humboldt State University, where he studied both fisheries and biology, with a focus on the ecology of inland waters. “I was fortunate enough in 1987 to be hired as a fisheries biologist under the young striped bass program,” Fujimura says. He relished the opportunity to do original research, he said, but later found that supervising other biologists on the smelt surveys was just as rewarding. “I would say that’s one of the things I enjoyed, helping younger biologists working in a field that was highly visible,” he says. “I enjoyed when they got recognition for doing challenging and important work.”

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Bob Fujimura spent his entire career with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Bob Fujimura spent his entire career with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. From 1987 until his retirement in late 2018, Fujimura served in a variety of roles at the department—but he is likely best known for heading up its long-term monitoring of native fishes in the Bay and Delta. Beginning in the mid-2000s, he oversaw annual smelt surveys with far-reaching implications for management and conservation, including the Spring Kodiak Trawl, which determines the relative abundance and distribution of spawning Delta smelt; the Smelt Larva Survey, which provides near real-time distribution data for longfin smelt larvae; and the 20mm Survey, which tracks post-larval juvenile Delta smelt throughout their historical spring range. “My goal was to provide good science throughout my career,” Fujimura says. “Most of the time, we were there to answer particular questions about factors key to fish abundance and survival. I just thought it was really great to be part of that data gathering.” Fujimura joined the department straight out of Humboldt State University, where he studied both fisheries and biology, with a focus on the ecology of inland waters. “I was fortunate enough in 1987 to be hired as a fisheries biologist under the young striped bass program,” Fujimura says. He relished the opportunity to do original research, he said, but later found that supervising other biologists on the smelt surveys was just as rewarding. “I would say that’s one of the things I enjoyed, helping younger biologists working in a field that was highly visible,” he says. “I enjoyed when they got recognition for doing challenging and important work.”

About the author

Nate Seltenrich is a freelance science and environmental journalist who covers infrastructure, restoration, and related topics for Estuary. He also contributes to the San Francisco Chronicle, Sonoma and Marin magazines, the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, and other local and national publications, on subjects ranging from public lands and renewable energy to the human health impacts of climate change. He lives in Petaluma with his wife, two boys, and four ducks. www.nate-reports.com

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