Maris passed away on 8 July 2022, aged 63. He represented Latvia on ICES Science Committee and contributed to ICES work for 29 years.
His scientific activities focused on demersal fish and other top-predator roles in the Baltic ecosystem, reproduction ecology of Eastern Baltic cod, and seal–fisheries interactions, as well as fish ecology and trophic relations in the coastal zone and contributing to ecosystem-based approaches to management and fish stock assessment. In recent years, he engaged in the Gulf of Riga herring stock assessment. Maris will be remembered as a calm, kind, courageous, and open-minded person.
Maris was born on 23 September 1958 in Viļāni, Latvia. He started primary school in Stende and studied there for three years. He was interested in sports at that time. Later his parents moved to Rēzekne, where Maris went to Rēzēknes 5 secondary school. He enjoyed playing basketball and also developed a passion for subjects such as chemistry and biology. He participated in Olympiads and once took second place in the national chemistry competition.
After graduating from school, he studied biology at the University of Latvia. He graduated from the faculty of Biology in 1982 and began working for the Baltic Fisheries Research Institute in Riga (BaltNIIRH). From 1989–1992, he lived in Moscow and worked for the Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO).
Following Latvian independence in 1991, Maris became Head of the Benthic Fish Sector at the Latvian Fisheries Research Institute (LATFRI) and the next year, Head of the Marine Division. His duties included working on Eastern Baltic cod stock assessments and coordinating coastal fish monitoring. He first joined ICES in 1993 and, since then, actively participated in ICES community work, being a member or chair of several expert groups. From 1994–1995, he lived in Aberdeen and worked with the University of Aberdeen. Maris has also worked as a guest researcher at Kiel University (1998–1999) and as a lecturer at Latvian University.
In 2004, after the reorganization of the LATFRI institute into the Latvian Fish Resources Agency (LATFRA), Maris continued his work as Head of the Marine Division. In 2010 the LATFRA was integrated into the Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment (BIOR). In recent years, Maris was a chief scientist in the BIOR institute. He became involved in various multidisciplinary Baltic Sea projects and increasingly engaged in collaboration with the coastal fishermen and communicating advice on fisheries management to individual fishermen, national fishermen organizations, fisheries managers, and the general public. His knowledge of the fisheries along with his personal attitude and communication skills helped in finding solutions to the growing conflict between seals and fishermen.
Maris was a passionate angler who loved water tourism and always planned fishing trips with his angling buddies, his godson or both. In the past decade, he's been to Åland Islands multiple times. He spent over a month in Alaska. He went to Kamchatka for a fishing trip. In his last few years, he fell in love with Africa - he went on trips to Uganda and Kenya. Outside of his academic career, Maris was a big fan of ice hockey, and he introduced his godson to ice hockey, who still plays to this day. He also inspired his godson to continue his studies in marine biology.
Maris will be remembered for his kindness, adventure spirit as well as his intelligence. He will be missed for his scientific contributions to ICES community.
Maris Plikshs 1958–2022.