Cassie Canastra '20: Why she chose the PSM degree

Cassie talks about how SMAST's professional science master’s degree program helped her gain the knowledge and experience necessary to assist regulators in the management of fisheries.

Cassie Canastra
Cassie A. Canastra, Director of Operations, BASE Seafood Auctions.

Cassie Canastra grew up amidst the fishing industry where she now advocates on their behalf. Early in her career path, she began working as the marketing director at BASE, Inc.—the seafood auction for the port of New Bedford, owned by her father Raymond and uncle Richard Canastra.

“My father was a fisherman prior to starting the auction in 1994, so he had the fishing knowledge that helped make him such a success. But I knew I needed to bring something new to the table. I wanted to be able to assist fishermen at various management meetings by being their voice and liaison,” she says. “As an undergraduate, I had a liberal arts degree in history. Starting in the seafood business, I was concerned that I did not have the necessary knowledge; particularly, in fisheries science, which is used to manage the various New England fisheries.” 

To prepare for career advancement, Canastra chose to pursue the Professional Science Master’s degree program at UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science & Technology (SMAST). “And I am beyond grateful that I did. The PSM program provided me with the necessary science background to understand the various regulatory requirements.”  As a graduate student, she conducted most of her research on market dynamics and how regulations affect the market at the port. “Studies like this are often lost in fisheries management. Regulations are enforced without foreseeing the various consequences a regulatory change can have on a given species' market. It is my hope that now, more studies will be conducted to look at market dynamics.”

She also says she has seen the value of the PSM program in many aspects of her career. "In the past, many fishermen collaborated with SMAST faculty on various projects. I was able to continue these collaborations and to build even stronger relationships through my studies.” 

Canastra is now director of operations for BASE, Inc., serves on the groundfish and scallop advisory panels for the New England Fisheries Management Council, sits on many different seafood industry boards, and works with the Buyers and Sellers Exchange. In 2018, she was named SouthCoast Woman of the Year for her dedication to the SouthCoast’s fishing industry. She earned her PSM degree in 2020.



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