Selected tag(s): science

How important is the role of science in managing U.S. fisheries?

Jeremy Sterk / istockphoto

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is proud to sponsor a panel this week at the annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) – the nation’s preeminent organization advancing fisheries science – that examines the role of science in federal fisheries management. Ten years ago, Congress gave science a stronger role in fisheries management. Today, overfishing has dropped significantly in U.S. waters and we have seen a number of fish stocks successfully rebuilt. Coincidence? Unlikely.

This week’s panel will examine what part the strong scientific provisions of the law have played in rebuilding fisheries, new scientific innovations needed to address remaining challenges, and whether any additional changes to the law could further strengthen management success. Read More »

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How science and technology can help save sharks

photo credit: Philippe Guillaume corrida via photopin (license)

Every year, Shark Week gives us a peek into the world of shark research and the amazing science and technology developing to study these captivating animals. This year, we were amazed by ultrasounds for pregnant hammerhead sharks and measuring a goblin shark’s bite.  The latest science and technology can also help fishermen seeking other species to avoid sharks, protecting them from a significant source of injury and death while saving fishermen money.

Globally, shark bycatch represents one of the greatest threats – maybe the greatest threat, — to shark populations. Worldwide, sharks caught as bycatch can make up nearly half of the total reported catch, and that’s not counting the large amount of catch that goes unreported. Often, fishermen want to catch more valuable species like swordfish and tuna using pelagic longlines, one of the most prevalent fishing gears on the high seas, and hate accidentally catching sharks instead. So how can science and technology help solve this problem? Read More »

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Healthy Fisheries Need Sound Science, Good Policy and Stable Markets

Cape May1By:  Alexis Rife & Jake Kritzer

Any fishery functions as a series of complex interactions among an ecosystem, the political arena, the economy, cultural norms and traditions, and other systems. Understanding these interacting systems is critical for achieving EDF’s triple bottom line goals: more fish in the sea, more food on the plate, and more prosperous communities. EDF has been tackling this challenge by bringing together expertise spanning disciplinary boundaries, including biology and ecology, social sciences, policy analysis, and business planning.  Members of EDF’s Fishery Solutions Center recently spent two days in Boston meeting with partners from Yale University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to integrate research efforts in support of sustainable fisheries worldwide.

Participants reviewed the recent global macro-analysis of the biological, social and economic upside that can be realized by aligning incentives in fisheries through the application of well-designed fishing rights.  We then considered three parallel analyses that allow deeper understanding of how to best design scientific, policy and market systems that allow for the upside to be realized. Read More »

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First U.S. Envoy for the Ocean: welcome news for fisheries worldwide

Photo credit: Carlos Aguilera

Photo credit: Carlos Aguilera

In an inspired and welcome choice, the Department of State just named Jane Lubchenco as the first U.S. Science Envoy for the Ocean.

The move reflects both the growing priority of oceans in the Obama Administration and the kind of collaborative approach it takes to restore jobs, communities and biodiversity worldwide.

This huge step comes just in time.

Globally, 40 percent of fisheries are in deep trouble with overfishing being the single biggest cause. Yet, Jane has shown how we can replenish life in the oceans through smart approaches that include better science, more marine protected areas, and stewardship incentives for fishermen. Read More »

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EDF Partner In Cuba Visits US for "Our Oceans" Conference (Part 2)

Fabian_Diving2

Dr. Fabián Pina Amargós is a first-rate marine scientist from Cuba, who has worked closely with EDF’s Oceans program for many years. Fabián has been a scientist with Cuba’s Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research for twenty years and was recently named director of the center.

Welcome back for Part 2 of our intern Shannon Switzer’s interview with Dr. Fabián Pina Amargós, as they discuss the marine scientist’s opinion on the effectiveness of MPA’s and ecotourism as conservation tools as well as his hopes for Cuba as a nation. Read the first part of the interview here.

SLS: Some people are skeptical that MPAs are effective in sustaining fisheries while protecting marine life. What have your studies shown you about the effectiveness of MPAs?

FPA: I think that of course, the controversial part is because nature is very variable. Sometimes you can have the results or the positive impacts of a management tool in a shorter time and sometimes it takes longer, which is dependent, for example, on the species you are trying to recover. So a species that has a short life cycle would have an impact of a no-take area faster, but if we are thinking tarpon, or goliath grouper or other species that live longer, you need to wait a longer time [to see the results].

But generally speaking, and especially where I am dealing in the Gardens, which is relevant for Cuba but also for other tropical places with similar ecosystems, we measured the results of the effect of the marine reserve. We found that after ten years of the declaration [of the MPA] the number of fish increased, the size of the fish are bigger and they are more abundant inside of the reserve. Also, they are not shy and are friendlier and allow you to get closer, so you can enjoy them more when you dive. But also, because the number has increased dramatically, we carried out an experiment and tested the spill-over effect, which is when the number of fish increases until it’s full inside, and they need to move outside. It’s not a random movement, it’s basically a density-dependent kind of movement, cause it’s crowded inside the protected area, and then they just spill over the boundaries.

Then the fishery grounds benefit from that, and you can fish outside. We’ve proved that [with our research], but now fishermen are saying most of the fish they are catching now are coming from the reserve. So now the reserves are gaining support by, not all of the fishermen, but many of them. At the beginning the vast majority of them were opposed to the reserve, and it’s a normal reaction of human behavior—you are preventing me from using a fishing ground that I’ve been using forever and my father and my grandfather and my grand grandfather were fishing on—but they realize now that this is a good tool. Read More »

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Monitoring with an eye towards cost-effectiveness in the Pacific Groundfish fishery

In the Pacific, electronic monitoring (EM) research is currently focused on individual accountability of both catch and bycatch in the trawl catch share fishery.  Since 2011, vessels in this fishery have been required to carry an on board observer.  Additionally, the crew of each vessel operates a vessel monitoring system (VMS), submits logbooks, and reports 100% of landings. This comprehensive program, along with individual fishing quotas (IFQs), has proven to be an effective approach to managing the fishery.  This success is evidenced by a decrease in catch of overfished and rebuilding species, as well as a significant reduction in unwanted catch, or “discards.”

Why Electronic Monitoring?

The West Coast Groundfish monitoring program is working well, but its high costs could push some of the smaller vessels out of the fishery, especially those that operate out of remote locations where it is difficult to deploy fisheries observers.  EDF’s Pacific Ocean team, along with many other stakeholders, is working with the Pacific Fishery Management Council to identify and approve appropriate electronic monitoring options.  The integration of EM into the Pacific groundfish monitoring program is expected to help reduce costs and increase operational flexibility while maintaining high levels of accountability. Read More »

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