Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Fish printing in the style of Gyotaku, a fun activity for the kids. They chose some great colors for the flounder!
The final product from the UNH Marine Docents' Build a Sailboat in a Weekend workshop--a 12' Oyster River Cat.
Boat tours were offered to show the inner workings of real commercial fishing boats.
Aside from tasty food, the Fishtival provided plenty of opportunities for folks to really see the fish found in New England waters, many of which we eat. A Fishtival volunteer shows kids the tail end of a bluefin tuna and other fish they could touch.
Some crabs and sea stars were on display.
Monkfish/goosefish are a type of anglerfish that use their pectoral fins to "walk" along the bottom of the ocean. They also have a long filament they can dangle from the top of their heads to lure prey into their large mouths.
Thanks to everyone who made the Fishtival a success once again this year!
Friday, September 9, 2011
The third revolution will enable a centralized data-management system with access nodes that can be used by fishermen, managers, fish marketers, fisheries scientists, and consumers. Amazingly, this type of system is already up and running off the coast of Washington and Oregon. The system can be used by fishermen to understand, in real-time, when and where threatened stocks of salmon are being caught; information that allows fishermen to avoid those areas thus conserving endangered stocks and allowing them to continue to fish populations that are doing well. Fisheries scientists are using the system to access data that they will analyze to improve their understand fish biology and ecology. The fish caught in the fishery are even given an ID tag so consumers can see where, when and who caught the fish they buy at the market......pretty amazing and powerful stuff, and a huge improvement on a system where redundant reporting on hand-written forms can drive fishermen (and managers) crazy.
The old system is confusing, labor intensive and lends itself to mistakes and errors. Plus, the information under the old system takes one-way path to managers, and the opportunity to USE that information for the benefit of the fishermen and the local community is lost. For more information on the project that Gil Sylvia has been working on with lots of other people, visit: http://pacificfishtrax.org/
Although much of the day was spent discussing the technological and practical challenges of implementing such a system (not the least of which are transmitting the data from the boats and the interest and technological capacity of fishermen), a number of different groups, including The Nature Conservancy, and private fishing industry members, are developing the software and hardware to begin implementing these types of systems on all coasts of the U.S.
One of the most interesting talks, however was presented by Catherine O'Keefe, a PhD student at the University of Massachussetts at Dartmouth (student of Dr. Steve Cadrin) who has used low-tech methods to provide real-time information on the distribution of yellow-tail flounder (rare species) to scallop fishermen. The scientists on the project did this by making a gridded map and having the fishermen provide information on where they caught yellow-tail flounder through email from the boats. The scientists compiled this information and provided fast-response warning about the location of "hot spots" where yellow-tail flounder were caught. Fishermen used this information to avoid these areas and have substantially reduced their catch of yellow-tail flounder. This is important for the conservation of the species AND the fishermen because the flounder remain in the water and because the fishermen must stop fishing for scallops once they catch their allotted quota of yellow-tail flounder.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Another interesting session at a great meeting!
September 7, 2011 - AFS Seattle. Dr. Brian Rothchild outlines recommendations for fisheries management and catch shares
He also floated the idea of developing a dedicated National Institute that we develop new strategies for using ocean weather and climate information to forecast stock variability. He feels that this type of institute would be able to capitalize on our improving understanding of the role that climate plays in fish population dynamics to improve management. An interesting idea to say the least!
Dr. Hilborn responded to critics of catch shares who claim that they destroy fishing communities by emphasizing that there are opportunities to combine community development with catch share programs. He also made the point that it is difficult to disentangle the effects of catch share systems with other outside forces that were going to affect fisheries and fishing communities.
Unfortunately, this talk came at the end of the day. I got the feeling that the group in the room could have discussed his comments into the night. It would have been very interesting to hear that discussion - one that those involved in sustainable marine fisheries will be a part of as we move forward.
Nevertheless, these are all extremely important points that highlight our need to be more demanding of media coverage of science. Dr. Jacquet highlights the need for careful reading of science presented in the media, and for objective and careful communication of science through objective sources. There is growing interest in fisheries in the general public, but also a growing level of confusion about marine ecosystems and fishing. The need for high-quality sources of information are more important than ever. But where will these trusted sources of information come from?
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Among the problems associated with catch share programs is that it tends to promote consolidation of the fishing fleet into the larger boats, as smaller day boats have a more difficult time turning a profit in the new system. The reasons for this are many and they are complex. One approach to addressing this problem is through establishing permit banks, which are a collection of fishing permits that can be held by a private or governement entity. Today, Michael Pentony from NOAA presented the current permit bank program that allows Northeastern states to hold a permit bank. Six million dollars were given to these states to establish permit banks; 3 million to Maine, and 1 million each to Massachussetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. This money is intended to be used to purchase fishing permits that will provide quota that can then be leased out to fishermen at a reduced cost. Theoretically, this will prevent consolidation by providing more fish quota to smaller boats. Maine has already bought permits and sold quota to fishermen, while NH, MA, and RI are still organizing their programs. But will this help smaller boats compete with larger boats that can have higher fish allocations and more resources for purchasing quota? Only time will tell.
For more information on Catch shares, visit www.nmfs.noaa.gov/catchshares
Anne Hollowed, from the National Marine Fisheries Service in Alaska, discussed how climate can influence the phenology of ecosystem events, the distribution of species, species interactions, and species vital rates. Ultimately, all of the complex physical, biological, ecological, and physiological interactions must be considered in predicting the influence of climate on ecosystems.
A more specific example was given by Jeff Napp (Univ. Washington) who explained that in the Bering Sea, scientists understand that physical processes, in particular sea ice, structure the marine ecosystem. He described a system where climate variability drives changes in marine communities that oscillates between two very different states (for more information, go to www.bsierp.nprb.org). This information has been used alongside traditional stock indices to inform management for Alaskan Pollock. This is one of the only examples I'm aware of where ecosystem indices inform management.
Michael Alexander, from NOAAs Earth Systems Laboratory, brought things to a larger, and longer scale and explained that climate predictions come with a great deal of uncertainty, that is compounded by our incomplete knowledge of climate systems, marine ecology, and the connections between the two. He emphasized that the same climate models run over a longer time period, predict very different outcomes for the same location. Charlie Stock, from NOAA's Princeton, GeoFluid Dynamics Lab, emphasized how difficult it is to predict climate 10+ years down the road.
So, where do we go from here? The group discussed where "low" and "high" hanging fruit might be found. It was suggested that scientists may want to focus on short-term predictions rather than a longer-term response to climate change although it is unclear which is more challenging! In the mean time, it seems that the use of climate and ecosystem indices described by Jeff Napp in the Bering Sea gives us a good model of how climate science can inform management today - I wonder if there are other examples where our knowledge of climate and marine ecosystems is good enough to inform management as well?
I arrived in Seattle yesterday morning and after a brief light-rail transit to downtown from the airport, I was finally able to take a seat at this year's American Fisheries Society meeting. The weather has been sunny and unseasonably warm (almost 90F!). On days like these, Mt. Rainier towers over this beautiful city inspiring thoughts of hiking and camping, or at least a trip to REI! I did my best to sort of ignore all of that, take a deep breath of the ocean-air, and head into the Washington State Convention Center which was buzzing with over 4,000 attendees. People have come from all over the world to be here to take in the latest contributions and discussions around emerging and continuing hot-topics in sustainable marine fisheries. I love this meeting because is touches on my many of my broad interests in this field. There are sessions dedicated to fish biology, ecology and oceanography and sessions focusing on management.
Yesterday, I attended a session titled, "Connecting Climate Science to Fisheries Management and Ecology in a Changing World." Today, I'll split time between "Catch Share Programs in the U.S. Commercial Fisheries" and "Adaptability of Fish Life Histories." Tomorrow, I may split time between "Cognitive, Sensory, and Behavioral Frontiers Exploring Fish Movement and Habitat Use" and "Electronic Frontiers in Fisheries Management - Log Books and Real Time Fishery Information Systems - Case Studies." For more information on the program, go to: http://afs2011.org/
I will do my best to provide updates here. Gotta run to the 8:00am start!