Posts Tagged Dr. Ray Hilborn

May 3 2019

What is the Real Cost of Protein?

With headlines published in the media like “Two-Thirds of the World’s Seafood is Over-fished” and “Science Study Predicts the Collapse of All Seafood Fisheries by 2050,” what is really the state of the ecosystems in the Earth’s oceans?

Will we deplete the ocean’s resources in the near future? or do we have time to make adaptions to ensure the vitality of fisheries?

At the event in Seattle, Foodable Host Yareli Quintana sat down with Dr. Ray Hilborn, professor of Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington who has been researching the topic of conservation and quantitative population dynamics of seafood for the last eight years.

Hilborn starts out by pointing out that there a two environmental challenges when it comes to seafood supply.

First, it’s the substantial fuel used to catch the fish, which generates carbon foot and then, the impact on biodiversity. As specific fish populations continue to be caught, this is changing the ecosystem of the ocean.

The seafood conservation expert also clears up a common misconception that our ocean is being depleted.

“Within the last 20 years the abundance of stock has really turned around in many places, there are certainly exceptions where that’s not true though,” says Hilborn.

But that doesn’t mean that chefs shouldn’t be concerned about what fish product that they are serving.

Each type of seafood makes a different impact on the environment. For example, Maine lobster generates a lot of energy to catch, while sardines, oysters, and mussels, on the other hand, make a really low impact.

Oyster and mussels feed themselves and most of the environmental cost comes from feed production.

Then there’s the problem of food waste, which is a challenge for restaurants, but more so, for consumers eating at home.

“One of the big issues of fish and food, in general, is waste. Globally, about 30 percent of food is wasted. In rich countries like the U.S., that’s mostly at home…So it’s important to be more careful about making sure you buy what you need and use it,” says Hilborn.

Watch the Seafood Talk Session above to learn more about the sustainability, research and management practices that are being worked on and adjusted every day in order to do right by nature and to feed the masses.

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Apr 23 2018

Dr. Ray Hilborn and Team Launch New Sustainable Fisheries Website

The website and education tools make learning and reporting about seafood sustainability easier than ever.


SEATTLE, WA April 23, 2018 – Dr. Ray Hilborn and his network a fisheries scientists launch The website is built around Sustainable Seafood 101, a series of posts meant to explain the science, policy, and social aspects of global fisheries.


“Our goal is that anyone interested – a high school student, PhD candidate, or reporter alike – could read Sustainable Seafood 101 and walk away with a good understanding of the complexities of global fisheries,” said Dr. Hilborn, professor at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington.


The new website also offers free fact-checking and source-finding for any interested journalist. Sustainable Fisheries UW can quickly put journalists, or other interested parties, in touch with the right expert to answer questions or fulfill interview requests.


The Sustainable Fisheries UW blog will keep readers up-to-date on events and research, as well as management and policy actions from around the world. Sustainable Seafood 101 coupled with up-to-date blogging gives readers access to fisheries science and policy in context, providing more complete information than can be gathered from a typical article. Sustainable Fisheries UW is a resource that explains fisheries news and provides relevant, supporting information quickly and easily.


The site also includes “Fishery Features” where long form posts detail the history and status of compelling fisheries around the world. The “Fact Check” section will highlight controversies in fishery science and stress the correct information.


Finally, will serve as the archive for CFoodUW, our former website meant to give fishery scientists and experts a platform to discuss recent research and fishery policy.


You can find Sustainable Fisheries UW on twitter @SustainFishUW and Facebook. For a more in-depth description of the site and Sustainable Seafood 101, visit the about page, contact us, or see the introductory blog.




Oct 22 2016

What I like about MPAs — Ray Hilborn

Oct 17 2016

A MPA skeptic speaks out on youtube

Jun 13 2016

Univ. of Washington Rejects Greenpeace Smear of Prof. Ray Hilborn, Says He Fully Discloses Funding

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

Copyright © 2016

Seafood News

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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Apr 29 2015

Ray Hilborn Asks If the Drive for MPA’s is Environmentally Shortsighted

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

SEAFOODNEWS.COM  [SeafoodNews]  April 29 2015

Most NGO’s assume that Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) are an unmitigated good, with little thought to their impact on the global food system.

But, converting large areas of productive fisheries to no-take zones, while appealing to NGO’s, actually may increase global environmental degredation.

The reason, says Professor Ray Hilborn in our latest video, is that marine protein is essential to global food systems, and as countries get richer and consumer more protein, you must ask where that protein will come from.

Already one quarter of all the ice-free landmass on earth is used for grazing animals.  Growing and feeding beef cattle is very land and energy intensive.

Hilborn says “Most ecolabeling systems make no connection between what we do in the oceans and what we do elsewhere.”

He goes on to say that unless you consider how marine protein is going to be replaced, such a narrow view of priorities could make global environmental problems worse, not better.

To supply the current level of marine protein from land based animals would require an area 22 times larger than all global rainforests put together.

Subscribe to SEAFOODNEWS to watch the video— Ray Hilborn: Eat a Fish, Save a Rainforest

Copyright © 2015
Mar 19 2015

Ray Hilborn’s Commentary on Capitol Hill: Magnuson Has Given the US Sustainable Seafood

SEAFOOD.COM   [The Hill]  (Commentary)  By Ray Hilborn  –  March 17, 2015
Copyright © 2015 | Published by permission

alaskafishingboatHilborn 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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Dec 9 2014

At Asia-Pacific summit, Kerry gives wrong advice for world’s fisheries


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.

Sep 18 2013

VIDEO: Dr. Ray Hilborn on Federal Fisheries Management and Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization

Saving Seafood

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.

Aug 27 2012

KUOW (NPR) Radio – Ray Hilborn on Overfishing: How Big Is The Problem?

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.