MSU fish science course to focus on management, sustainability

Published 3:50 pm Monday, July 24, 2023

By Abby Vaughn
MSU Extension Service

Are you an avid fisherman, a fish enthusiast (such as a teacher), or simply interested in learning more about Mississippi’s coastal biodiversity?

If so, the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center has a course just for you this fall. Register now through Oct. 5 to enroll in the third annual “FISHES: Fishermen Invested in Science, Healthy Ecosystems, and Sustainability” course Oct. 12-Nov. 9. Presented by the MSU Extension Marine Fisheries Ecology Program (MFEP), this five-week, in-person course will focus on fisheries management, fisheries science and sustainability.

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Designed to extend practical, science-based information in a user-friendly format, the course consists of five two-hour sessions and five hours of required reading. Lecture sessions will be each Thursday from 6-8 p.m., with refreshments provided.

Lecture topics will include foundations of Gulf of Mexico fisheries management, current Gulf of Mexico fisheries regulations, fisheries science and stock assessments, fish life history and diet, fish movement and human impacts to Gulf of Mexico species and ecosystems.

The course features three guest lectures: Mike Dance, an assistant professor at Louisiana State University, will discuss fish movement; Eric Sparks, an associate Extension professor at MSU, will explain human impacts on the coast; and Mark Albins, a research associate at the University of South Alabama and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, will present on the invasion of red lionfish.

To conclude the course, instructors and participants will embark on a five-hour offshore field excursion from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Dauphin Island, Ala. During this Nov. 4 trip, two types of fishing gear — a bottom trawl and a bottom longline — will be demonstrated onboard the Alabama Discovery, an active research vessel.

Everyone on board will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the catch of the day by handling stingrays, bony fishes, sharks and invertebrates while also participating in real-life scientific research and data collection. Each class participant can bring one guest free of charge.

The course offers continuing education credits through the MSU College of Professional and Continuing Studies. Additionally, everyone gets a “swag bag” valued at $150, consisting of a SeaQualizer, a dehooker and other various on-the-water gear.

Fishermen and fish enthusiasts alike have not only enjoyed the FISHES course but have also gained knowledge relevant to their careers and interests. For the MFEP personnel, the course provides valuable opportunities to engage with stakeholders and share knowledge on their favorite subjects.

Registration is $100 and available online to anyone 18 or older at For more information and the syllabus, visit the FISHES webpage at