Friday, June 29, 2012

The Challenge of Linking Fisheries Science and Management

June 12, 2012 marked the beginning of a three-day workshop that brought together fishermen and scientists to review and discuss the known information on the Atlantic cod stock structure, both past and present.  This workshop was Phase I of a three-phase approach to evaluate the present Atlantic cod stocks and determine if adjustments need to be made.  Hosted by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute at the Sheraton Hotel in Portsmouth, NH, this workshop focused on the stock evaluation, including: a general overview of stock structure boundaries, how current management of the stocks was developed, broad and fine scale population structure, a comparison of historical vs. present distributions, implications for stock assessment, and possibility of future stock changes.  Phase II will focus on how potential changes to the cod stock structure will influence science and management as well as the advantages and disadvantages of changes to the stock structure.a ility of future stock changes,ed during the workshop? This is confusing to me. ted and whomever hosted it), this workshop focu

Over the course of the three days, a variety of information was presented to the attending group.  In addition to presentations on the current science being done on cod stock structures, fishermen expressed their shared concern for the depleting cod stocks.  From the fishermen’s point of view there is both an economic concern as well as a concern for the preservation of the fishery.  They expressed a strong willingness to help develop a method for allowing the stocks to rebuild, but emphasized the importance of including sustainability of their own businesses into the planning.  For example, fishermen often target areas that support spawning fish because they support larger fish that fetch a higher sale price.  If these areas are closed for portions of the year to protect cod, fishermen feel that it is important that somehow they are allowed to offset this loss later in the season. 

Many of the attending scientists felt that there was not sufficient information available to justify strong management response to a revised understanding of cod stock structure.  However, towards the end of the third day it became clear that no solid recommendations backed by both scientists and fishermen would be found.   So the challenge remains:  how do we use incomplete scientific information to inform management in ways that ensure continued viability of both fish and fishermen?

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