Trish Clay wrote her PhD thesis at Indiana University in 1992on “Fishermen as Rational Peasants: A Venezuelan Case Study” and soon thereafter joined NOAA Fisheries at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) in Woods Hole, MA. She was the first sociocultural social scientist hired by NOAA Fisheries in a regional science center. There she began visiting ports and doing analyses of fishery permits by fishing community to add more sociocultural data to the standard economic analyses of fishery costs and earnings. She was also sought out by other NOAA Fisheries regions to help them understand and plan for someone like her in their offices. She sees her job as part advancing the state of theory within anthropology, part explaining social science to fisheries management, and part explaining fisheries and their management to anthropology more broadly.
In 1996 the primary legislation governing U.S. fisheries management, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), was revised to add a definition of “fishing community” and a new requirement (National Standard 8) for the “sustained participation” in fishing of communities and the minimization of adverse economicimpacts. Trish led the working group that wrote the officialimplementation guidelines for National Standard 8. She was also part of the Oceans and Coasts Team that wrote the human dimensions chapter of the 3rd National Climate Assessment (NCA) in 2013, the first NCA to include humans.
More recently, 2022, she was one of the Leads for the Task Force on Ocean Societal Indicators of the U.S. Interagency Ocean Observation Committee. And in 2023, she was appointed a voting member of the NOAA Social Science Committee.
Trish has also led or been involved in a number of seminal academic papers in fisheries anthropology, e.g: defining fishing communities, understanding the role of social bonds in disaster recovery; connecting fish as a resource to fish as afood; recognizing the importance of including bothsubjective and objective indicators for understanding human behavior; and identifying pathways for effective fisheries social impact assessment relative to both social science and US laws and policies.