Marcus Hartley’s work for Northern Economics has focused on issues involving fisheries and fisheries infrastructure. He has also had significant involvement in natural gas and LNG pipeline projects and has been a leader in developing tools and resources to enhance community impact assessments. Before coming to Northern Economics in 1997, Marcus was Senior Economist at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, where he became a recognized expert in providing economic analysis for decision-makers in some of the world’s most important fisheries.
Marcus has been a professional economist since receiving his M.Sc. in Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics from Oregon State University 1989. Working as an applied economist to help communities and individuals make good decisions about their resources became a priority for Marcus after 2 years in the Peace Corps. Working in Nepal as a fisheries extension officer, Marcus witnessed the power of economic thinking and the consequences of uninformed decisions.
The fisheries program presented small farmers an opportunity to move from their tradition of growing rice on their land—which might be just enough to support their families—to fish farming—which could give them a chance to accumulate wealth and break free from their cycle of poverty. Unfortunately, fish farming was not risk-free, and it required new skills, dedication, and hard work. If the farmer wasn’t able to meet the challenge, or if external factors turned negative, then the decision could result in failure, the loss of a farmer’s land, and even starvation for the family. The trade-off between relatively risk-free rice farming—with a continued life of poverty—against a very risky leap of faith into fish farming—with a higher profit potential and a chance to accumulate wealth—was clear. It was also clear that economics could provide information to help these farmers—and many other people facing complex issues—in their decision processes.
While much of Marcus’s work has involved fisheries, his most satisfying work comes with application of ideas and concepts from one field to areas of study in which they have not been used.
Outside the office, Marcus spends a lot of time on the golf course and hiking and snowshoeing with his wife Diane, in the rugged mountains behind their South Anchorage home. He is a passionate fly-fisher and is always looking for the perfect trout stream.
Marcus’ answers to life’s more important questions:
Claim to fame: I was captain of the Garfield Gorillas softball team in the 5th grade. We made international news (Paris’ Le Monde) when, after the players went to the wrong field, our cheerleaders beat the Yankees from Grant Elementary for our only victory of the year.
Curious about: Why there aren’t more golf courses on fishing streams
Why Alaska: Fish, fly fishing, fishery economics, fish policy, fish.
Idea of fun: There is truly nothing better that sight fishing with a dry fly for large rainbows, although having a multi-fish day for steelhead comes close.
Best fish story: Caudal Peduncle: A true story. So there I was, thigh-deep, about 10 feet from the bank in the frigid June waters of the Oregon’s Santiam River. I’d been wading the river looking for early summer-run steelhead, but none were to be found. I decided to call it a day and turned back to the shore. As I approached the bank I saw, with its nose up against the bank, a large spring chinook. The fish was lying perfectly still – only the slightest movements of its gills indicated it was alive. Slowly I reached my gloved hand down into the water and as lightly as possible touched its side.
Still no movement. I began rubbing its belly, and the fish seemed to press up against my hand. Soon it was moving slightly back and forth, like a cat trying to get me to rub at the best spots. Then greed struck me. I could work my hand back toward its tail, and if I was lucky could grab hold of the great fish and possibly land it. When I finally gripped the fish by its caudal peduncle, the salmon exploded from the water. All of its tremendous energy reserves fighting for freedom against the hand of its treacherous seducer. After what seemed minutes, but was really seconds, the chinook broke free of my grasp and continued its journey upstream. With a lot of relief and not a little guilt, I began the steep climb up the bank.
It wasn’t until I reached the top that I noticed the Fish and Game warden, whose only words were, “Was that a legal gear I saw you using?”