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May 14, 2007

Wakefield estate leaves $857,000 to UAF

Fairbanks, Alaska—When Frankie Wakefield, the widow of Lowell Wakefield, died last fall, she left a gift of over $857,000 to the University of Alaska Fairbanks to continue her husband's longtime commitment to the wise management of Alaska's fisheries.

Her gift will be used to memorialize Lowell Wakefield's contributions to Alaska's fishing industry, expand fisheries educational opportunities for Alaskans and continue the annual Lowell Wakefield Fisheries Symposium Series, which has been hosted by Alaska Sea Grant since 1982.

Widely considered to be the founder of Alaska's modern king crab industry, Lowell Wakefield believed that a high quality product and a well-managed fishery were key to the healthy development of Alaska's king crab fishery. Wakefield and his company, Wakefield Seafoods, played a prominent role in the development of quality control legislation, fishing regulations and international agreements for the high seas. In the 1950s, Wakefield struggled against a well-established Japanese canned king crab industry. According to a TIME magazine interview in 1967, Wakefield claimed that "when you are so far from the market that your costs are relatively high, your only hope is a product of the highest quality."

His solution, freezing the king crab at sea, revolutionized the industry. From 1956 to 1967, the sale of Alaska king crab rose from 9 million pounds per year to 150 million pounds per year.

He also served as an adjunct professor of fisheries at the University of Alaska in the 1960s. During his time with the university, Wakefield helped develop the Law of the Sea, an international treaty administered by the United Nations that provided new legal controls for ocean pollution and marine resource management.

The Lowell Wakefield Fisheries Symposium Series is held every fall. Each symposium focuses on a different fisheries-related topic, including the biology, ecology and economics of Alaska's crab, herring, flatfish, pollock and rockfish fisheries.

Gordon Kruse, a professor of fisheries at UAF and longtime organizer of the Wakefield Symposia, calls it a "world-class series."

"It focuses the attention of leading national and international experts on important and timely fisheries topics of great interest to Alaska. Many of the findings reported in these symposia have greatly contributed to fishery conservation and management in Alaska and elsewhere," added Kruse.

The UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences conducts world-class marine and fisheries research, education and outreach across Alaska, the Arctic and Antarctic. More than 60 faculty scientists and 135 graduate students are engaged in building knowledge about Alaska and the world's coastal and marine ecosystems. SFOS is headquartered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and serves the state from facilities located in Seward, Juneau, Anchorage and Kodiak.


Carin Bailey
Public Information Officer
UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences
Tel: (907) 322-8730

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