Jun 22 2014

Regional Fishery Management Councils call on Oceana to retract bycatch report; Cite “substantial errors, omissions”



WASHINGTON (Saving Seafood) — June 18, 2014  — The Regional Fishery Management Council Coordination Committee, representing all eight U.S. regional Fishery Management Councils, has recommended that environmental group Oceana retract its March 2014 report on fisheries bycatch, “Wasted Catch,” that was widely reported in the press without independent verification of its allegations.

Saving Seafood reported on problems in Oceana’s report in brief on the day of its release and in-depth last month.

BRIEF: Oceana Report on Bycatch Ignores Examples of Environmental Stewardship in Commercial Fishing

IN-DEPTH: Oceana’s Bycatch Report and Media Coverage Ignores Key Successes in U.S. Fisheries

After an exhaustive analysis of the report, the Councils found “a variety of substantial errors, omissions, and organizational approaches” in the Oceana report that “may seriously miscommunicate bycatch information.” The Councils have recommended that Oceana retract the report “until [they] have the time and/or resources to develop a better understanding of the data summarized in the report.”

The Councils contend that “misinformation in reports like Wasted Catch undermines those productive relationships between industry, management, and NGOs that have been effective in reducing bycatch.” They are especially critical of the fact that Oceana relied heavily on only one document, the National Marine Fishery Service’s “National Bycatch Report,” and in doing so has left the report “unlikely to result in a full representation of the best available science.”

The Councils recommended that for future reports, Oceana should adopt “a standardized peer review process to ensure that reports like this accurately and objectively represent the best available science.”

The analysis by the Councils lists general issues with and critiques of the report, followed by a region-by-region analysis of errors and omissions identified by Council staffs.

The Councils conclude by acknowledging, “there are no laws requiring Oceana reports to accurately represent the best available scientific information or to undergo peer review.” But they urge that “to do so would be in the best interest of all involved parties.”

Read the full letter from the Regional Fishery Management Council Coordination Committee here

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