Tom Sanborn is a fisheries analyst with Northern Economics with a passion for finding ways to integrate social science into conservation and sustainability approaches. He earned his master’s degree from Ghent University in marine biological resources and worked with a variety of fishing communities both in the US and internationally. Before joining Northern Economics, Tom served nearly four years in the Peace Corps working with artisanal fishing communities in the Philippines, worked alongside NOAA as a longline fisheries observer in the Pacific, and conducted his thesis examining social biases in gathering local ecological knowledge within a Filipino island community. Additionally, Tom worked as the marine advisor for the conservation start-up Cyan Planet and as a consultant for the climate-focused CASE Consultants International.
Tom enjoys bringing an analytical approach to his work and emphasizing the cultural and ecological relationship people have with their marine ecosystems. He is most at home whenever he has the chance to get back out on the ocean.
Tom’s answers to life’s more important questions:
Great Escape: I spent two weeks in a van with my partner doing a camping trip around Iceland. Iceland had been stuck in my psyche since I was a teenager as an impossible place at the edge of the world, and even being there, it still felt dreamlike. The landscape was surreal and humbling, and after two weeks of hiking across glaciers and fjords and waking up at the foot of waterfalls, the sense of dreaming hadn’t faded. I’m still not convinced I was actually there, which means I just have to go back to prove it.
Idea of fun: A warm beach with even warmer water. A cooler, a tent, a perfect spot in the sand, and a sunset that sets the horizon ablaze. Even better if there was a hike to get there.
Memorabilia: While working as an observer, our boats would catch all kinds of billfish, from blue and striped marlins to sailfish and spearfish. My favorite was the swordfish, though. There was always excitement on deck when we caught one on the line. It took the whole crew to haul some of those massive and thrashing 500-pound fish onboard. I remember the biggest one we caught. We tended to fish through the night, and this came up on the line around 2am. We had to use the winch to get it out of the water. From tip to tail, it was about 11 feet and when we laid it out, it stretched across the entire deck. It was a beautiful fish, covered in puckered scars from cookie cutter sharks and with remoras still clinging to its belly. Once they cleaned it out, it was big enough I could have curled up inside it. The crew usually tossed the bills overboard along with the rest of the discards, but I asked them to let me keep that one. I took it home, polished and carved it. It’s still on my wall.