Oct 7 2015

Global Fisheries Scientists set up ‘Truth Squad’ to Counter Inaccurate Scientific Claims in Media

— Posted with permission of SEAFOODNEWS.COM. Please do not republish without their permission. —

Copyright © 2015 Seafoodnews.com

Seafood News


Too often false statements about fisheries go unchallenged in the media.  Many NGOs trumpet their conclusions about fisheries crisises, but don’t always explain how they get their ‘facts.’

Their media partners lap up stories of doom and collapse, often uncritically.  For that reason, a group of  International experts in fisheries management have come together as part of a new initiative, called CFOOD (Collaborative for Food from Our Oceans Data.) The coalition will gather data from around the world and maintain fisheries databases while ensuring seafood sustainability discussions in the media reflect ground-truth science.

The scientists behind the project have long pushed for accurate and clean data sources on the world’s fisheries.

The CFOOD project, headquartered at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (SAFS), is made up of a network of scientists whose mission stemmed from a frustration with erroneous and agenda-driven stories about fisheries sustainability in the media. The CFOOD project will maintain a website and social media channels that provide a forum for immediate feedback on new seafood sustainability reports and studies.

“The CFOOD website allows us to offer independent scientific commentary to debunk false claims, support responsible science, or introduce new issues based on recent research,” said Dr. Ray Hilborn, Professor at University of Washington’s SAFS and founder of the CFOOD initiative.

“The ocean is a remarkably abundant source of healthy protein,” said Hilborn. “And while sustainability challenges exist, particularly in areas lacking sufficient fishery management infrastructure, many fisheries around the world are well-managed and sustainable. The message doesn’t always seem to resonate with consumers because of misinformation they continue to hear in the media.”

By reviewing and providing scientific analysis on relevant studies, papers, and media reports the CFOOD network hopes to use science to set the record straight for consumers, so they can have confidence the seafood they purchase is harvested in an environmentally responsible fashion.

Other scientists on the editorial board for CFOOD include Robert Arlinghaus, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries and Humboldt at Universität zu Berlin; Kevern Cochrane, FAO Retired, Cape Town, South Africa; Stephen Hall, World Fish Center, Penang, Malaysia; Olaf Jensen, Rutgers University; Michel Kaiser, Bangor University, UK; Ana Parma, CONICET Puerto Madryn, Argentina; Tony Smith, Hobart, Australia; Nobuyuki Yagi, Tokyo University.

“Exaggerated claims of impending ecological disaster might grab attention, but they risk distorting effort and resources away from more critical issues.  I hope this initiative will help provide the balance we need,” said Dr. Stephen Hall, Director General, World Fish Center, based in Malaysia.

The first set of comments on the CFOOD website debunks a WWF paper claiming a 74% decline in global mackerel and tuna species.  The scientists point out that the data used to support that conclusion is out of date, having not been updated since 2004, and that more robust data sources, such as the actual stock assessments of tuna and mackerel stocks around the world were not used by the WWF in creating their estimate.  We explore the comments in depth in our related story.

To connect with the scientists, you can use twitter, facebook, or their website.

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John Sackton, Editor and Publisher

Copyright © 2015 Seafoodnews.com

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