Posts Tagged Dr. Ray Hilborn
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SEAFOODNEWS.COM By John Sackton – June 13, 2016
When Greenpeace is caught denying scientific consensus, their reaction is to try and claim that the scientists are not independent, but simply mouthpieces for the industry Greenpeace is targeting.
This has been an effective tactic in fighting global warming, as there is evidence of a concerted campaign by the fossil fuel industry to fund the 1% of scientists who take a contrary view against the well-established scientific consensus on causes of global warming.
Greenpeace, after losing badly a public campaign claiming trawling was hugely impacting corals in the major Canyons of the Bering Sea, [Short answer: not coral habitat, and bottom trawling already prohibited] tried to use that same tactic against renowned fishery scientist Ray Hilborn, who has led the building of a global scientific consensus about how to measure overfishing, and determine when it is or is not occurring.
They accused Dr. Hilborn of not following accepted professional guidelines regarding disclosures of research funding sources. Instead, they called him an “overfishing denier”, clearly trying to make the connection with climate change.
Just like with the Bering Sea Canyons, investigation showed the facts were not what Greenpeace claimed.
The University of Washington, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Science Magazine have all reviewed the charges Greenpeace made against Dr. Hilborn of non-disclosure and found there were no violations of University or Journal procedures.
For example, Dr. Mary Lindstrom, Vice-President for Research, University of Washington, said “In response to the inquiry regarding Dr. Ray Hilborn’s research, disclosure, and outside activities we have reviewed his funding types and sources, publication history and disclosures, as well as approvals for outside consulting against relevant University policies.”
“For the activities described in Greenpeace’s letter to Dr. Inder M. Verma, Editor‐in‐Chief of PNAS, dated May 11, 2016, we have not identified any actions or lack thereof, engaged in by Dr. Hilborn which violate University policies or procedures governing conflicts of interest or outside consulting.”
The University of Washington has received millions of dollars in support from fishing groups for several research programs Dr. Hilborn leads, and where that support has led to scientific papers the support is acknowledged. This funding has been used to help maintain sustainable fisheries, help protect fish habitat and to train students. The University of Washington’s Salmon program pioneered many of the key techniques used for Alaska salmon forecasts, and today contributes to the management of Bristol Bay. Industry co-funding of research contributes to better fisheries management.
The reason the reality of industry support for fisheries in the US is so different than what Greenpeace claims is that the US Industry has fully embraced the concept that fisheries decisions have to be based on the best available science. Greenpeace cannot embrace that concept because much of its funding is based on claiming impending disasters that only they can stop. If the science provides a different or more nuanced answer, their funding dries up.
Hilborn says “I have no personal financial arrangements with recreational or commercial fishing groups, but I have certainly done consulting projects for them in the past, and when that support led to scientific papers the support was acknowledged. I have also done consulting and research for groups and industries which are occasionally in conflict with fishing interests, including the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, WWF, Environmental Defense, the Pew Institute for Ocean Science, Exxon and agricultural interests. Where that work led to scientific publications the support was acknowledged.”
“Greenpeace wants to tar me with the same brush as climate change deniers. They clearly have not read my publications. The book “Overfishing: What Everyone Needs to Know” published by Oxford University Press in 2012 begins in the preface ‘So what’s the story? Is overfishing killing off ocean ecosystems or are fisheries being sustainably managed? It all depends on where you look.’
“Overfishing is a major threat to marine ecosystems in some places but in other places stocks are increasing, not declining and overfishing is being reduced or almost eliminated. I tell a complex story of success and failure, whereas Greenpeace simply cannot accept that overfishing is not universal. I seek to identify what has worked to reduce overfishing – Greenpeace seeks to raise funds by denying that many fisheries are improving. Indeed Greenpeace should acknowledge that they have had a role in reducing overfishing in some places – take credit rather than deny it is happening,” he says.
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SEAFOODNEWS.COM [SeafoodNews] April 29 2015
SEAFOOD.COM [The Hill] (Commentary) By Ray Hilborn – March 17, 2015
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Hilborn published an opinion column today in the Hill, a newspaper targeting Congress and Congressional Staff. He makes the case that with the Magnuson Stevens Act the US has acheived sustainable fisheries.
This year marks 40 years since the passage of landmark Congressional legislation that fundamentally overhauled how the $90 billion U.S. commercial fisheries industry is managed. It established a unique public-private partnership in which the industry, working with scientists and both federal and local authorities, would regulate fishing according to agreed-upon scientific standards for environmental sustainability, even as the industry stretched to meet skyrocketing demand for seafood. As the world’s marine science and fisheries experts convene in Boston this week at the International Boston Seafood Show, the implications of the bold decisions taken in 1976 on U.S. fisheries should be assessed in light of a race to the bottom of the seas elsewhere due to overfishing.
Prior to 1976, federal regulations for marine fisheries were virtually non-existent, leading to rampant exploitation of our oceans and fisheries. But the Magnuson Stevens Act changed that in two important ways. First, it eliminated foreign fleets from a 200-mile exclusive economic zone, reserving these waters for U.S. vessels alone. And second, it established a system of regional management councils to regulate federal fisheries, laying the foundation for a strict and transparent science-based approach to fisheries management that has enabled the U.S. to emerge as a model of seafood sustainability around the world.
Under the provisions of the Magnuson Stevens Act, regional fishery councils in the U.S. are required to use the best available science in setting harvest levels, identify and protect essential fish habitat, abide by the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Act, and enact protections from fishing activities that are detrimental to other species.
Over the years, various amendments to the Magnuson Act have further refined and improved its structure. Most importantly, following the painful collapse of the nation’s oldest fishery—New England bottom fish, including haddock and redfish—significant amendments in 1996 resulted in a stronger focus on protecting habitats and establishing a requirement for a 10-year rebuilding timeline.
Today, the U.S. has essentially eliminated overfishing, with only 9 percent of stocks now fished at rates higher than would produce long-term maximum yield. In a report released this month by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, 98 percent of U.S. fisheries received a “Best” or “Good” rating, with only 2 percent on the “Avoid” list. While 17 percent of stocks are still considered “overfished”, most of these are on the road to recovery. And in New England, bottom fish stocks have made a spectacular recovery, having increased six-fold since the mid-1990s.
Technically speaking, some stocks will always be “overfished” – fish stocks fluctuate naturally and the managers can only control what they harvest—but the U.S. management system, using scientific advice, is designed to take such fluctuations into account, and will completely stop harvesting when stocks reach low levels. Consumers and retailers should buy U.S.-caught fish with confidence that the fishery is managed through an open, transparent, and sustainable process.
However, consumers and retailers are often confused by the numerous non-governmental organizations providing consumer advice on what stocks are sustainably managed. Legitimate concerns about overfishing in the 1990s led to the rise of these watchdog NGOs, and today there are literally dozens of seafood advice web sites that provide often conflicting advice. A stock may be listed as a “best choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but still be on Greenpeace’s “red” list. The same stock of fish may be rated “green” or “red” by the same organization depending on how it is caught.
Why the conflicting information? Quite simply, providing seafood advice is now a big business, both with direct payment from retailers to those giving advice, and by fundraising campaigns to “save the oceans” that fail to acknowledge that the existing U.S. fisheries management system provides for sustainability. Indeed, despite the fact that it is widely agreed among scientists, fisheries managers, and government regulators that U.S. fisheries are well managed, some NGOs now gain so much revenue from companies that sell seafood and concerned citizens, that they simply cannot admit the U.S. success.
The interests of marine stewardship are far better served should NGO’s direct their attention to places where fisheries management is not science-based and effective. While there is always room for improvement, the U.S. has a system in place that can adjust to sustainability concerns, while many other countries do not routinely monitor the abundance of their fish stocks, nor have management systems in place to reduce harvest when abundance goes down.
Moving forward, the U.S. government and NGOs should promote the U.S. management system and its successes as a model for the world. The race to the bottom in countries that routinely overfish is ultimately self-defeating. Convincing fisheries that sustainability preserves jobs as well as stocks is a monumental task. But the U.S. has the benefit of 40 years of evidence—a thriving industry with one of the lowest levels of overfished stocks—to back it up.
Hilborn is a professor of aquatic and fishery sciences at the University of Washington and author of “Overfishing: What Everyone Needs to Know.”
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Environmental sustainability was one of the top concerns at the mid-November Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing, as shown by the potentially groundbreaking climate agreement reached between the United States and China. The fate of the world’s oceans, from issues ranging from climate change to overfishing, was also in the spotlight, being mentioned by Secretary of State John Kerry as one of many challenges facing the Asia-Pacific region. Unfortunately, the solutions we’re focusing on are not enough to solve the problems that our marine environments face.
The APEC summit is the most recent instance in which the US has touted the expansion of marine preserves as a tonic for global overfishing, especially as climate change and ocean acidification threaten to radically alter our ocean ecosystems. This past September, the Administration created the largest marine reserve in the world when it expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, moving this strategy to the forefront of our international ocean policy. Secretary Kerry hailed this development as “critical” at the summit, going on to note, “most of the fisheries of the world are overfished.”
But Secretary Kerry gets some key facts wrong here. For one, most of the fisheries of the world are not overfished. In 2014, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) placed that number at 29 percent, and reported that approximately 70 percent of the stocks that they assessed were being fished within biologically sustainable levels. If the U.S. is going to promote sustainability worldwide, it should acknowledge current management successes.
And more importantly, these Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) aren’t sufficient to solve some of the most pressing issues affecting our oceans, despite our nation’s recent enthusiasm for promoting them.
MPAs are certainly very useful for certain conservation goals. They can protect vulnerable habitats like coral reefs as well as benefit some species of fish that make those habitats their home. But their widespread adoption presents several challenges and raises several concerns. The biggest issue is that—especially in the developing world—people still need to fish. It’s a valuable source of employment, and an even more valuable source of protein. The FAO estimated that in 2011, 2.3 billion people relied on fish as a significant source of animal protein. A shift from seafood to other, land-based food sources like meat and agriculture may actually increase greenhouse emissions and pollution, making these threats to our oceans even worse.
MPAs are also a much more limited tool than currently acknowledged. They do little to help certain stocks of highly migratory fish, like tuna, which don’t remain in any closed area long enough to reap much of the benefits. Even stocks that stay in one place might not benefit for long. With climate change putting increasing pressure on stocks to migrate from their traditional territories to cooler waters, the spatial limitations of an MPA are a poor fit for the habitat changes that are likely to occur. Similarly, MPAs provide little protection against the increasingly prominent effects of ocean acidification. Effectively dealing with these growing climate problems is going to require a long-term strategy that is simply outside the reach of fisheries management.
Fishing isn’t likely to go away anytime soon, and a global conservation strategy that’s too reliant on keeping fishermen out of an ever-expanding set of ocean reserves has some obvious political, economic, and practical limits. Adopting more sustainable management measures for some of the world’s largest fisheries, many of them in APEC member countries, would likely have a much greater impact.
So what’s the best way to address the problem of overfishing and prepare for climate change? We need to promote a combination of strategies at the international level that have worked so well in some of the world’s best managed fisheries, such as New Zealand, Norway, Iceland, and here in the United States. When effectively implemented, measures like limiting the size of fish that can be caught, controlling how much fish is caught, and restricting the ways in which fish can be caught all produce effects similar to those seen in successful MPAs. They also have the benefit of sustaining fishing economies and maintaining fish as a viable source of food.
No conservation measures, whether on climate, or pollution, or overfishing, can be sustainable in the long-term unless they confront economic and political realities. Promoting better fishing, rather than simply displacing or banning it all together, is far more likely to win support among the developing world, which can’t afford to sacrifice a critical way of life.
Hilborn is professor of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences at the University of Washington and the author of Overfishing: What Everyone Needs to Know by Oxford University Press. Rothschild is dean emeritus of the University of Massachusetts School for Marine Science and Technology. Cadrin is the immediate past president of the American Institute of Fisheries Research Biologists. Lassen is the founder and president of Ocean Trust.
View the original post here.
WASHINGTON (Saving Seafood) — September 17, 2013 — Last Wednesday, Dr. Ray Hilborn, of the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, testified before the House Committee on Natural Resources during a hearing on the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Following his testimony on Capitol Hill, in which he adhered to the Congressional hearing’s five minute time limit, Dr. Hilborn sat down with Saving Seafood’s Executive Director Bob Vanasse for an in-depth discussion of his recommendations, and to give his presentation in full.
Dr. Hilborn explains how an emphasis by fisheries managers on eliminating overfishing has led government agencies to ignore other important aspects of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which mandate the protection of fisheries resources alongside concerns for the socio-economic well being of fishermen and their communities.
Dr. Hilborn aruges that that the U.S. has largely “solved” the problems surrounding overfishing and that underutilization of the resource should be of greater concern to fisheries managers.
The video begins with Dr. Hilborn’s evaluation of U.S. fisheries policy under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, his recommendations for the reauthorization, and concludes with a question and answers.
Watch the full video here.
Read the original post here.
Fish is a significant source of protein in the human diet; around 90 million tons are caught every year. Are some fisheries in danger of collapse? What species are being managed the right way? UW professor and fisheries expert Ray Hilborn talks to David Hyde about his new book “Overfishing: What Everyone Needs To Know.”
Listen to the full interview here via KUOW NPR – 94.9 FM (Seattle).
Ray Hilborn is a professor of fisheries at the University of Washington. Reporter Ross Reynolds hosts this fast–paced news call–in program. Engaging, stimulating and informative – a forum where listeners have the chance to speak directly with experts on news–oriented topics. The Conversation covers the very current topics and issues of the day.
Written By Christie Nicholson
Contributing Editor at SmartPlanet
Many of us think that if a fish species is overfished we probably should be wary about choosing it at the supermarket or on the restaurant menu. But the opposite may be true. Our boycotting of some overfished species may be hurting us and the American fish industry, not the fish.
Hilborn holds that the public, food retailers, NGOs and congress have misunderstood what defines a sustainable fishery. In fact overfishing and sustainable can, oddly enough, go together.
SmartPlanet caught up with Hilborn in Seattle, WA to get a better understanding of this paradox and why he thinks a fish boycott doesn’t make sense.
SmartPlanet: What are red listed fish?
Ray Hilborn: Red lists are advice that a number of NGOs provide on what species of fish one should avoid eating.
SP: And Whole Foods stopped selling such fish based on these red lists?
SP: And other stores and restaurants have done similar things?
RH: Yes red lists are widely used.
SP: What are the criteria for red-listed fish?
RH: The three criteria that most NGOs use. One is status with respect to overfishing. The second is concerns about bycatch. So if you have a fishery that is catching a significant number of turtles, or sharks, or other species they’ll often get red-listed. Finally there are concerns about the environmental impacts of fishing, particularly concerns about trawl nets, or nets that touch the bottom and change bottom habitat.
SP: But you have made the point recently that if a species is overfished it doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t be sustainable. And this seems counterintuitive. People might say well red lists sound more like the right thing to do.
RH: There’s an enormous lack of understanding about what sustainability really is. Essentially sustainability has nothing to do with the abundance of the fish and much more about the management system. So if you’re managing it in a way where if it gets to low abundance you’ll reduce catches and let it rebuild. That’s clearly sustainable.
You can have fish that are overfished for decades but still be sustainable. As long as their numbers are not going down they are sustainable. Some of it is “overfished” with reference to the production of long-term maximum yield. It doesn’t imply declining and it doesn’t imply threat of extinction.
SP: And even if it falls into this latter category that you just described it should be safe for consumers to eat?
RH: So long as it’s in a management system like the U.S. where when stocks get to low abundance we dramatically reduce catches, and the evidence is they then rebuild. Then yes, those stocks are perfectly sustainable.
SP: What about this issue of bycatch?
RH: OK, so the NGOs will say, “Oh this stock is not sustainable because there is bycatch of sharks.” Well the stock is sustainable. Every form of food production has negative impacts on other species. And that’s where there’s an enormous double standard applied to fish.
For instance, I guarantee you there’s a big environmental impact of buying soybeans that come from cutting down rainforest. There’s a much higher standard applied to fisheries than almost anything else we eat.
SP: What goes into creating a sustainable fishery?
RH: The first thing is you have to monitor the trend in the stock. You have to have a system based in good science, that says this stock is going down. Then your management actions have to respond to the trend.
SP: What about foreign fish? Which ones can we eat?
RH: Much of the fish of the world do not qualify as sustainable because we just don’t know what’s happening in other countries like Africa or Asia. Now, very few fish from those markets makes their way to the U.S. market. But some of the Atlantic cod populations in Europe are still fished much too hard. But the big propulsions in Europe are actually quite sustainable. Much of the cod that make it to the U.S. are coming from Iceland or Norway where the stocks are in good shape.
SP: But how do you tell the difference if it’s cod coming from an overfished area?
RH: Well, that is a major problem. But if it’s Marine Stewardship Council certified you can be pretty sure that it’s what it claims to be. Personally, I tend to buy a pretty narrow range of fish that come from my region, like salmon, halibut, and black cod. And pretty much all of those are MSC certified.
SP: You mention that the boycott on sustainably caught fish does nothing for conservation.
RH: You can boycott this all you want, it’s not going to affect what’s caught. Because for these overfished stocks enormous effort is being taken to catch as little as possible and it’s not the consumer market that drives the amount of catch. Those fish are going to be caught and they’re going to be sold because there are a lot of markets in the world that don’t care about classification and red lists, essentially all of Asia, which is the world’s biggest seafood consuming market.
The places that consumer boycotts might have an effect is for fish like bluefin tuna or swordfish.
SP: Well if boycotting makes no difference, is there a negative side to boycotting?
RH: My real target is to tell retailers and the NGOs, “Look, let’s get more reasonable about what we mean by sustainability.”
SP: And we need to get more reasonable about the definition of “sustainability” because there are real economic dangers to the fishing industry? Or is it because of something else?
RH: Yes, that’s certainly one of the issues. Let’s not punish these fishermen who have paid a very high price to rebuild these stocks. Let’s let them sell what they’re currently catching.
SP: So it seems the word “overfished” is also more nuanced?
RH: Well I think Congress had this very naïve view that somehow you could manage every stock separately and if cod is depleted, at low abundance well we stop fishing it, but they don’t appreciate the cost of all the other species that we could not catch because we can’t catch those species without also catching some cod as bycatch.
Now, there’s a lot of work going on to try to solve that problem. But I it’s important to convince people that we will always have some overfished stocks. And if we continue with our current U.S. statement that ‘no stock shall be overfished’ we’re going to have to give up a lot of food production. We’re certainly doing that now.
SP: You’ve also argued that fish is a food we need?
RH: If we don’t catch certain fish with trawl nets, and let’s say it’s twenty million tons, then that food is going to be made up some other way. And what’s the environmental cost of the other ways of producing the food? My initial calculations suggest that it is quite a bit higher. We should always be saying, “Well if we don’t eat this, where else is the food going to come from, and what’s the environmental cost of that?”
SP: So you ultimately feel that the marketing of these red lists has gotten to the point where it’s lost rational sense?
RH: Yes. I’m pretty convinced that seafood production is more sustainable than growing corn in Iowa or wheat in Kansas. Because growing corn in Iowa forces us to lose topsoil every year. In another 200 years the topsoil will be be largely gone. Is that sustainable?
SP: So your feeling is that disappearing fish from the store shelves is going to force us to lose food and presumably money?
RH: Yes, and to eat more livestock or chicken now.
Check out the article on the SmartPlanet blog.
By Michael Conathan | Director of Oceans Policy at the Center for American Progress.
Earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its annual “Status of Stocks” report to Congress outlining the overall health of our nation’s fisheries. To the relatively small cadre of fish geeks (myself included), the release of this document is a major event. It lacks the panache of the Oscar nominations, but for us it is perhaps comparable to the way the 1 percent gets all giddy for Berkshire Hathaway’s annual letter to shareholders.
NOAA’s report for 2011, similar to that of Warren Buffett’s financial powerhouse, continued its recent trend of positive returns. The topline numbers showed modest yet continued growth in the overall health of America’s fish populations. At the end of 2011, just 14 percent of fish stocks were subject to overfishing, and 21 percent were in an overfished state—down from 16 percent and 22 percent in 2010, respectively. (Recall this description of the difference between a stock that is “subject to overfishing” and one that is “overfished.”)
Yet the most impressive news to emerge from this year’s report was that six stocks have been declared fully rebuilt—more than in any other year—bringing the overall total of stocks rebuilt since 2000 to 27.
Despite these positive trends and all the feel-good stories the report has spawned (in more than 100 newspapers nationwide), correspondence in my personal inbox this week was dominated by references to a Washington Post Wonk Room blog post proclaiming boldly that it had found “The end of fish, in one chart.”
The chart in question comes from a wide-ranging World Wildlife Fund study on global biodiversity, and it displays the dramatic increase in global fishing pressure from 1950 to 2006. The blog piece goes on to reference an overpublicized doomsday scenario article published by lead author Dr. Boris Worm in 2006 in the journal Science. Worm’s study predicts the demise of global commercial fisheries by 2048. Ah, how the mass media truly loves a ticking clock.
The rest of that story, as I explained in an earlier column, is that Worm later collaborated with several other colleagues, including Dr. Ray Hilborn, on a follow-up article that Scienceran in 2009 showing a far rosier outlook on the future of the world’s fisheries—specifically that “conservation objectives can be achieved by merging diverse management actions, including catch restrictions, gear modification, and closed areas.” Sound management practices mean fishery rebuilding is possible.
And that’s precisely what we’re now seeing in domestic fisheries with the slow but steady recovery of fish populations. Our regulations are working—at least for the fish. Yet as always, we must continue to seek the balance between regulations that work for the fish and for the fishermen.
Hilborn hit this point perfectly with an op-ed he co-authored for The New York Times earlier this week with his colleague and wife, Ulrike Hilborn. Their point, similar to one I made in this series four weeks ago, is that when we as consumers eschew overfished fisheries that are in the process of rebuilding under strictly enforced science-based catch limits, we unnecessarily penalize fishermen who are acting in the best interests of the ecosystem, coastal communities, and our national economy.
Americans should not feel guilty about eating domestically produced seafood, as long as we keep strict regulations in place that reflect the best available science and that continue working toward the rebuilding goal achieved in 2011 by six different fish stocks.
Read the full article on American Progress.