Ocean Trust Forum Highlights Need for Competent Science in Sustainability Programs

Ocean Trust convened its second Science & Sustainability Forum with leadership from the American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists and internationally recognized scientists and managers from leading fish producing nations.  Call for greater emphasis on science in sustainability programs issued with post forum press release on Making Sense of Sustainability

The 2012 Forum also set out several research priorities which Ocean Trust has implemented to examine new tools to measure the sustainability of fisheries.  Current projects include a comparative framework assessment of fishery management programs in the US with United Nations standards for sustainable fisheries.

Ocean Trust launched its Science & Sustainability Workshop series in 2010 in partnership with Bonefish Grill to bring top fishery research scientists from different parts of the world together with representatives from key seafood industry sectors. The aim was to bring science back into the discussion on seafood sustainability.  Highlights and testimonials supported the need for future workshops.

Representatives from the foodservice, retail, distributor, producer sectors engaged in direct dialog with scientists from the FAO, US, Mexico, Canada, Norway, Spain/ISSF, Russia, New Zealand, and CCAMLR who each gave presentations on status and management of stocks in their respective regions and key issues like:

  • Science and Sustainability - Are We Asking the Right Questions?, Brian Rothschild, SMAST/UMass Dartmouth
  • State of World Fisheries: Doom & Gloom or Are Fisheries being sustainably managed, Ray Hilborn, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences UWA
  • Sustainability of Global Stocks: Definitions and trends, Grimur Valdimarsson, formerly with FAO, Rome
  • Northeast Atlantic Fisheries: Four Pillars of Sustinability, Åsmund Bjordal, Institute of Marine Research, Norway
  • EU Fisheries Management: As Seen by a US Scientist, Michael Sissenwine, WHOI
  • Sustainability and Pacific Salmon, Dick Beamish, DFO/President American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists
  • Sustainability of Fishery Resources in the Russian Far Eastern Seas, Oleg Katugin, Pacific Research Fisheries Centre, Vladivostok, Russia
  • Transnational Tunas, Victor Restrepo, ISSF
  • Sustainable Fishing in New Zealand & Antarctic CCAMLR, Kevin Sullivan, NZ Ministry of Fisheries
  • Mexican Fisheries, Miguel Cisneros, INAPESCA
  • Sustainability in US Fisheries: The Southeast Regional Perspective, Roy Crabtree, NOAA
  • The next Science & Sustainability Workshop will be held in the fall of 2011 and bring scientists from other regions not covered in 2010 and provide a focus on overfishing and ecosystem management. Each year, the regions will rotate so that regional updates are provided on alternative years.

Some conclusions & testimonials from 2010:

“There has been a decoupling between sustainability proxies and scientific reasoning, but there is a significant opportunity to slow down (the) rhetoric and increase the focus on fundamental, management-related, scientific missions.” Brian Rothschild, UMassDartmouth/SMAST.

“The dramatic decline in fish stocks that Daniel Pauly published in 1998 never happened…and large depletions (of tuna and billfish as reported by Myers) that forms the core of this mythology on “oh, all of the fish are gone” is totally busted.” Ray Hilborn, UWA School of Fisheries.

”Something has to be done in the science community to speak out on these issues that appear in the popular press and are being promoted for wrong reasons. It is time for this to happen.” Dick Beamish, DFO Canada/President American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists.

“Our goal is healthy marine ecosystems and sustainable harvests; but who sets the definitions. We have to move in the direction of supporting competent authorities like ICES for the Northeast Atlantic and a global authority of fishery issues, that’s FAO. We have to keep this focus up and to try to present the right picture.” Åsmund Bjordal, Institute for Marine Research, Norway.

“One message (from this workshop) should be to support the competent authorities to do their job. Support the science and the regional organizations. Support the management.” Mike Sissenwine, ICES Science Committee Chair/Former NOAA Fisheries Science Director.

“We are subject to extensive regulatory requirements none of which translates to the end user at the point of sale. NOAA should consider a certification logo that would allow compliant seafood suppliers to confer to the point of sale that the seafood packed under this program is a safe, responsible and sustainable choice backed by US government.” Joe Nohren, Bama Sea Products

“If seafood is harvested under a fishery management plan then it should be sustainable because the stock is in rebuilding programs or harvested at sustainable levels. Just look at what is required under an FMP. If it is federally managed and in compliance of what the law requires, it has to be sustainable.” Roy Crabtree, NOAA.

“We should not be fixed on stock status, but the fishery management system as stocks fluctuate over time. It should not be a problem if you overfish in one year If you are part of a management framework plan you are sustainable.” Kevin Sullivan, New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries.

“I’m very impressed from what I have heard from scientists from all the countries represented. There is a lot more going on than I knew about. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate being part of this project to put these scientists together, it’s fantastic.” Les Hodgson, Marco Sales.

“Thank you for a fantastic and insightful meeting, the collaboration and information helped give me confidence in our position as a premier seafood restaurant.” John Cooper, Bonefish Grill.

“This was outstanding; really helpful and very useful.” Joe Nohren, Bama Sea Products.

“It couldn’t be more timely and appropriate to hold a conference on science and sustainability, and it’s clear that we have made important first steps.” Brian Rothschild, UMASS/SMAST.

Full report available to members, join Ocean Trust today!