In memoriam – Simon Northridge

ICES is deeply saddened by the passing of our colleague Professor Simon Northridge.
Published: 17 April 2024

Written by Mark Tasker

It was with considerable shock that we learned of the sudden death of Simon Northridge on 17 March 2024. Simon, born on 15 March 1960, ​was only 64 years old. 

Simon graduated from Oxford University in Zoology with supplemental Anthropology and this interest in both biology and humans was reflected in his work throughout his life. Early in his career, while studying for his PhD, he undertook numerous research consultancies, bringing together environmental groups, the fishing industry, government departments, and international agencies to work on conservation and development issues in several countries. His work focussed on marine ecology, particularly marine mammals and their interaction with the fishing industry. In 1992, he worked for a year at Wood’s Hole, USA. He joined the UK’s Sea Mammal Research Unit in 1995, which shortly afterwards moved from Cambridge, England, to the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. In 1997, Simon became a Research Fellow in the St. Andrews School of Biology, then a Senior Lecturer at the Scottish Oceans Institute. He was appointed Deputy Head of School in 2020 before being promoted in August 2023 to Head of the School of Biology and becoming a Professor.

Simon’s approach was to try to fully understand an issue from all angles and to understand multiple points of view, while at the same time being fully rooted in science. He could listen to and see many points of view and would challenge when these were not supported by science. He understood well the role of policy- and decision-makers and their need to weigh competing (sometimes non-scientific) positions. His main area of interest in marine mammals and their incidental killing in fisheries required such a dispassionate yet focussed approach. The approach allowed him to develop ways of properly measuring and minimising this unwanted mortality.

Simon became engaged in ICES work in the early 2000s. He was an obvious choice to chair the newly created Study Group for Bycatch of Protected Species (SGBYC) in 2008 (which evolved to the Working Group on Bycatch of Protected Species [WGBYC] in 2011). This was one of the first expert groups that dealt with formal requests from ICES clients on environmental effects of the fishing industry – in this case a request to review progress by EU Member States in relation to a Regulation on cetacean bycatch. Simon co-chaired a joint NAMMCO/ICES workshop on bycatch monitoring in 2010. There is no doubt that this work, along with other projects that he led, has been influential in improving the focus of authorities on measuring and reducing unwanted bycatch. After stepping down as Chair of WGBYC, Simon remained engaged with many aspects of ICES protected species bycatch work until his untimely death.

Simon is remembered as a kind, thoughtful, and wise man who has passed far too early. ICES thoughts and sympathies are with his wife Joanna and their three daughters. Simon is greatly missed by all who knew and worked with him, his friends in ICES, and far beyond.

  Simon Northridge, left. Image courtesy of Jo Northridge.

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​Simo​n Northridge, 1960-2024.
Image courtesy of Jo Northridge.

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In memoriam – Simon Northridge

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