Posts Tagged study

Apr 15 2015

Can squid help make soldiers invisible?


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Atlanta (CNN) — One of the world’s oldest organism groups, cephalopods, like squid, octopus and cuttlefish, have survived in Earth’s oceans for millions of years.

They key to their survival: mastering the art of camouflage.

Now, scientists say, these ancient invertebrates may hold the key to developing a combat technology that will allow soldiers to avoid infrared detection.

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine say they have discovered a way to use proteins in the cells of pencil squid to develop “invisibility stickers” that can be worn by ground troops.

“Soldiers wear uniforms with the familiar green and brown camouflage patterns to blend into foliage during the day, but under low light and at night, they’re still vulnerable to infrared detection,” said Alon Gorodetsky, assistant professor of chemical engineering and material sciences.

“You can draw inspiration from natural systems that have been perfected over millions of years, giving us ideas we might never have been able to come up with otherwise,” he said.

Gorodetsky and his team have focused on specialized squid cells known as iridocytes, which contain a unique light-reflecting protein called reflectin. They were able to engineer E. coli bacteria to synthesize reflectin and coat the protein onto a packing tape-like surface to create the “invisibility stickers.”

Researchers say these reflectin-coated stickers can be changed into virtually any color with a chemical or mechanical stimulus.

“There is a lot of flexibility in how one can deploy this material, essentially, by taking the stickers and putting them all over yourself, you could look one way under optical visualization and another way under active infrared visualization,” Gorodetsky said.

The lab technology is not ready to be used in combat zones as researchers work to develop an adaptive camouflage system, in which multiple stickers are able to work in sync and respond to varying infrared wavelengths.

“We’ve developed stickers for use as a thin, flexible layer of camo with the potential to take on a pattern that will better match the soldiers’ infrared reflectance to their background and hide them from active infrared visualization,” Gorodetsky said.

The researchers’ work was recently presented at the 2015 American Chemical Society national meeting.

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Feb 23 2015

Sardines move north due to ocean warming


Original post:

Sardines, anchovies and mackerels play a crucial role in marine ecosystems, as well as having a high commercial value. However, the warming of waters makes them vanish from their usual seas and migrate north, as confirmed by a pioneering study analysing 57,000 fish censuses from 40 years. The researchers warn that coastal towns dependent on these fishery resources must adapt their economies.

The continued increase in water temperature has altered the structure and functioning of across the world. The effect has been greater in the North Atlantic, with increases of up to 1.3 ºC in the average temperature over the last 30 years.

This variation directly affects the frequency and biogeography of a group of pelagic fish, which includes the sardine (Sardina pilchardus), anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus), horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus) and mackerel (Scomber scombrus), among others, which feed off phytoplankton and zooplankton and that are the staple diet of large predators such as cetaceans, large fish and marine birds. These fish also represent a significant source of income for the majority of coastal countries in the world.

Until now, scientists had not managed to prove whether the changes observed in the physiology of the pelagic fish were the direct result of the or if they were due to changes in plankton communities, their main food source, which have also been affected by global warming and have changed their distribution and abundance.

The new study, published in Global Change Biology and that has developed statistical models for the North Sea area, confirms the great importance of sea temperatures. “Time series of zooplankton and data have been included to determine the factor causing these patterns”, Ignasi Montero-Serra, lead author of the study and researcher in the department of Ecology at the University of Barcelona, explains to SINC.

Bioindicators of the health of the sea

To demonstrate the consequences of the warming of the seas, the research team analysed 57,000 fish censuses from commercial fishing performed independently along the European continental shelf between 1965 and 2012, extracted from data provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).

The study, the first to be carried out on such a large time scale and area, allows for the dynamics of this species to be understood in relation to the rapid warming of the oceans that has been happening since the eighties.

The results reveal that sardines and other fish (with fast life cycles, planktonic larval stage and low habitat dependence) are highly vulnerable to changes in ocean temperature, and therefore represent “an exceptional bioindicator to measure the direction and speed of climate change expected in the near future”, points out Montero-Serra.

Subtropicalization of North Sea species

Due to the accelerated increase in of the continental seas, sardines and anchovies (with a typically subtropical distribution) have increased their presence in the North Sea “even venturing into the Baltic Sea”, confirms Montero-Serra, who adds that the species with a more northern distribution (like the herring and the sprat) have decreased their presence.

The analysis is therefore a clear sign that species in the North Sea and Baltic Sea are “becoming subtropical […] where sardines, anchovies, mackerel and horse mackerel, more related to higher temperatures, have increased their presence”, says the researcher.

This is due to the pelagic fish being highly dependent on environmental temperatures at different stages of their life cycle: from reproductive migrations and egg-laying, to development and survival of larvae.

According to researchers, the changes in such an important ecological group “will have an effect on the structure and functioning of the whole ecosystem”. The expert warns that coastal towns that are highly dependent on these fishery resources “must adapt to the new ecological contexts and the possible consequences of these changes”, although they still do not know the scale of the socio-economic and ecological repercussions.

Jan 26 2015

Stanford Researchers Strap ‘Crittercam’ Onto Squid

Stanford Researchers Strap ‘Crittercam’ Onto Squid, Discover How They Speak, Hide Themselves

squid_camera_012315Camera strapped onto a Humboldt squid. (Stanford University)


STANFORD (CBS SF) – Researchers at Stanford University strapped cameras on squid off the coast of Mexico and found the sea creatures likely use visual patterns to communicate and to hide themselves from predators, according to a study released this week.

Their study, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, found Humboldt squid rapidly change their body colors from red to white to red again, in what researchers called “flashing.” They believe the behavior could be a way the squid speak with each other.

“The frequency and phase relationships [synchronization] between squid during flashing can be changed and this suggests that there is some information being conveyed that makes minute control over these details important to the squid,” Stanford researcher Hannah Rosen told the journal.

The researchers made their findings with the help of so-called “Crittercams” from National Geographic that were strapped onto the squid using Lycra-like “sweaters.”

Another behavior found by researchers is called “flickering,” where the squid produce waves of red and white across their bodies, likely to camouflage themselves from predators near the surface. They also observed what could be mating behavior of the squid.

Researchers plan to outfit more squid with cameras.

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Dec 18 2014

Unusual Species Highlight West Coast Cetacean and Ecosystem Survey


The research ship Ocean Starr returned to San Diego Wednesday, completing NOAA Fisheries’ first comprehensive survey of whales, dolphins and porpoises and the marine ecosystem off the West Coast in six years. Highlights of the four-month survey included unusual marine mammals and birds drawn by warm ocean conditions, and the first offshore tests of an innovative new system for remotely counting marine mammals through sound.

“You don’t know what you will find until you are out on the ship, which is what makes it so important,” said Jay Barlow, chief scientist of the California Current Cetacean and Ecosystem Assessment Survey that stretched from California north to Washington. “This has been a very interesting and surprising survey because we’ve seen species we wouldn’t expect, which gives us information about their distribution as well as about current ocean conditions.”

The Survey led by the Southwest Fisheries Science Center identifies and counts cetaceans, seabirds and marine turtles using high-powered binoculars and towed listening arrays. The team also uses a series of specialized nets and oceanographic sampling gear to survey microorganisms that provide important clues about ocean conditions as well to monitor the physical environment through which the ship is traveling. In some cases researchers take tiny biopsies from whales and dolphins for genetic studies of population structure, foraging habits and health.

Scientists use the survey results to assess numbers of whales and dolphins and trends in their abundance, which helps determine the degree of protection the species may need.

Unusual species sighted included pygmy killer whales seen for the first time off California and warm-water seabirds such as band-rumped storm petrels seen for the first time in the Northeast Pacific. The survey also sighted sei, blue, fin, humpback, killer and short-finned pilot whales. In one instance the crew could hear a particularly loud chorus of singing humpback whales in the open air on deck.

The abundance of sei whales was a surprise, with more sightings of this species than the last five surveys combined from 1991 to 2008.

The Survey included the first offshore tests of the Drifting Acoustic Spar Buoy Recorder (DASBR), a pioneering system developed at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center to record the calls and other sounds of marine mammals while drifting the open ocean. Crews recover the DASBRs by following a GPS beacon and later acoustic analysis can distinguish the number and density of different species of marine mammals in surrounding waters.

The successful launch and recovery of several DASBRs over the course of the survey helps pave the way for longer-term deployment of the devices that cost less than $5,000 each. DASBRs drift in the open ocean and avoid the engine noise of similar arrays towed behind ships. That allows them to collect more data at a lower cost, supplementing traditional surveys that require expensive ship operations.

More information can be found on the Southwest Fisheries Science Center and  California Current Cetacean and Ecosystem Assessment Survey web sites.

View San Diego ABC Channel 10 News The previous link is a link to Non-Federal government web site. Click to review NOAA Fisheries Disclaimer and CBS Channel 8 News The previous link is a link to Non-Federal government web site. Click to review NOAA Fisheries Disclaimer  reports on the California Current Cetacean and Ecosystem Assessment Survey.

A selection of photographs The previous link is a link to Non-Federal government web site. Click to review NOAA Fisheries Disclaimer from the four-month West Coast cetacean and ecosystem survey can be viewed on


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Dec 9 2014

NGO critics of California’s sardine rules miss that better science mean conservative management

Seafood NewsPublished with permission of SEAFOODNEWS.COM

By D. B. Pleschner [Opinion]  Dec 8, 2014

Recently the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to change the sardine harvest control rule, increasing the upper limit of the sardine harvest fraction from 15 to 20 percent. The decision came after an exhaustive set of scientific workshops and analysis involving more than 60 people, held over the past two years to respond to a research paper that suggested that sea surface temperature (SST) measured at Scripps Pier in southern California, which had been employed as a proxy for sardine recruitment, was no longer correlated with recruitment success.

But apparently this fact was lost on environmental activists, who cried foul to the media, claiming that sardines are crashing, and the management response to the crisis is to just fish harder.

Claims that the Council voted for a more aggressive fishing rate miss the point: nothing could be further from the truth. But the truth is complicated.

We know that California’s sardine population is strongly influenced by ocean temperatures: warmer waters tend to increase sardine productivity, while colder waters tend to decrease it.

“The northern sardine stock has been declining for several years due to poor recruitment, and there is concern that it will decline further in the next couple of years, ” says Dr. Richard Parrish, one of the authors of the original sardine control rule. “Although no one can predict the environmental conditions that will occur in the future, the pessimistic view is that the northern stock will continue to decline and the optimistic view is that the present warm water conditions will herald increased recruitment. “

“Whichever occurs first, ” he adds, “the past, present and management team-­‐ recommended sardine harvest control rules were all designed to automatically regulate the exploitation rates both by reducing the quota and reducing the harvest rates as the stock declines, and by shutting down the fishery if the biomass falls below 150,000 mt. ”

The original sardine analysis, made in 1998, was updated by a new analysis that found offshore sea temperatures slightly better correlated with sardine productivity than the measurements made at Scripps Pier. Population simulations made with the updated information that included the population increase in recent decades show that the sardine stock is about 50% more productive than thought in 1998. The management team therefore recommended raising the upper bound of fishing fraction from 15 to 20 percent to account for the new best available science.

But that doesn’t mean that the catch quota for the coming year will be raised. This is a long-­‐term harvest control rule that simply follows better scientific modeling efforts.

The new rules will determine fishing rate just as before: If the temperature is cold, the harvest will be kept low; if the population size decreases both the harvest rate and the allowable catch will automatically decrease. In fact the new sardine harvest rule proposed by the sardine management team and enacted by the Council is actually more precautionary than the original rule it is replacing. It does this by producing an average long-­‐term population size at 75 percent of the unfished size, leaving even more fish in the water, vs. 67 percent in the original rule.

The original harvest rule reduced the minimum harvest rate to 5 percent during cold periods. The present, very complicated rule, has a minimum rate of 0 percent during cold periods.

What’s more, the harvest fraction will only be applied after subtracting 150,000 mt from the sardine biomass estimated in the next year’s stock assessment. The new harvest rule will still keep fishing limits low in cold-­‐water, low-­‐biomass conditions. The fraction won’t increase unless and until field surveys demonstrate more sardines and the ocean temperature increases substantially above recent levels.

Bottom line: The California sardine may be the best-­‐managed fishery of its type in the world -­‐ the poster fish for effective ecosystem-­‐based management.

D. B. Pleschner is Executive Director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, a nonprofit dedicated to research and to promote sustainable wetfish resources.

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Dec 2 2014

Monterey historic boat could get new purpose

gp1Built by Sicilian born boatbuilder Angelo Siinno in Monterey around 1927-1930, the General Pershing may be repurposed into a classroom on the bay.
David Royal — Monterey Herald

The Siino family has contributed a lot to the history of Monterey and their latest idea could give back even more.

They said this week they are aiming to turn the largest boat Sicilian-born Angelo Siino, one of Monterey’s most famous shipbuilders, ever crafted into an educational tool.

The General Pershing boat is roughly 60 feet long, 15 feet wide and was built around 1927 at Monterey Boatworks and used to film “Captains Courageous” in 1937 and other films. It is still seaworthy.

“Our goal is to make it back to being useful for the heritage of Monterey. We’re calling it Classroom on the Bay. We want it to be a teaching vessel,” said Siino’s granddaughter, Janet Martinez, 68, of Aromas.

Martinez said they need help restoring the lampara boat, which she estimates could reach up to $150,000. They have been repainting it for the last three weeks.

She said they hope to partner with a nonprofit or get grants to accomplish their vision.

In the meantime, she has written a book called “Master Boat Builders of Italy.” Revenue from sales will be used for the project.

Given the boat was built during the heyday of the sardine industry, she said students could be taught the history of Monterey aboard, as well as modern classes about the ecology of the Bay.

Angelo Siino moved to the United States from Sicily in 1903 and to Monterey in 1914. He died in 1956.

He built 15 boats from scratch and did it without blueprints, Martinez said.

“To this day, I don’t know how they did it,” she said.

He taught his craft to sons, Raymond and Frank, who became celebrated ship builders.

The General’s original owner was Neno DiMaggio, cousin to baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, who named it after Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, the World War I figure under whom Neno DiMaggio served.

It eventually ended up in San Francisco under the ownership of fisherman Frank Watada. He gave it back to the Siino family in 2003.

The General hit the news in 2008 when a colony of seabirds called Brand’s cormorant took up residence on it and required U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists to get them out.

Martinez can be found at Boatworks most days painting the boat but can also be reached at


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Sep 15 2014

Unusual North Pacific warmth jostles marine food chain

September 2014 | Contributed by Michael Milstein


Scientists across NOAA Fisheries are watching a persistent expanse of exceptionally warm water spanning the Gulf of Alaska that could send reverberations through the marine food web. The warm expanse appeared about a year ago and the longer it lingers, the greater potential it has to affect ocean life from jellyfish to salmon, researchers say.

“Right now it’s super warm all the way across the Pacific to Japan,” said Bill Peterson, an oceanographer with NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Newport, Ore., who has linked certain ocean indicators to salmon returns. “For a scientist it’s a very interesting time because when you see something like this that’s totally new you have opportunities to learn things you were never expecting.”

Not since records began has the region of the North Pacific Ocean been so warm for so long. The warm expanse has been characterized by sea surface temperatures as much as three degrees C (about 5.4 degrees F) higher than average, lasting for months, and appears on large- scale temperature maps as a red-orange mass of warm water many hundreds of miles across. Nick Bond of the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean at the University of Washington earlier this summer nicknamed it “the blob.”

Indeed, there are three warm zones, said Nate Mantua, leader of the landscape ecology team at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center: The big blob dominating the Gulf of Alaska, a more recent expanse of exceptionally warm water in the Bering Sea and one that emerged off Southern California earlier this year. One exception to the warmth is a narrow strip of cold water along the Pacific Northwest Coast fed by upwelling from the deep ocean.

The situation does not match recognized patterns in ocean conditions such as El Niño Southern Oscillation or Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which are known to affect marine food webs. “It’s a strange and mixed bag out there,” Mantua said.

One possibility is that the PDO, a long-lived El Niño-like pattern, is shifting from an extended cold period dating to the late 1990s to a warm phase, said Toby Garfield, director of the Environmental Research Division at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center. Mantua said the PDO may have tipped into a warm state as early as January of this year.

But both scientists noted that the observed warm temperatures are higher and cover more of the northern Pacific than the PDO typically affects. For all but the Gulf of Alaska, the warm waters appear to lie in a relatively shallow layer near the surface. The cold near-shore conditions in the Pacific Northwest also don’t match the typical PDO pattern.

Warm ocean temperatures favor some species but not others. For instance, sardines and albacore tuna often thrive in warmer conditions. Pacific Coast salmon and steelhead rely on cold-water nutrients, which they may have found recently in the narrow margin of cold water along the Northwest coast. But if the warmth continues or expands Pacific Northwest salmon and steelhead could suffer in coming years.

“If the warming persists for the whole summer and fall, some of the critters that do well in a colder, more productive ocean could suffer reduced growth, poor reproductive success and population declines,” Mantua said. “This has happened to marine mammals, sea birds and Pacific salmon in the past. At the same time, species that do well in warmer conditions may experience increased growth, survival and abundance.”

Peterson recently advised the Northwest Power and Conservation Council that juvenile salmon and steelhead migrating from the Columbia River to the ocean this year and next may experience poor survival.

“The signs for salmon aren’t good based on our experience in the past,” Peterson said, “but we won’t really see the signal from this until those fish return in a few years.” The warm expanse in the Gulf of Alaska is a kind of climatic “hangover” from the same persistent atmospheric ridge of high pressure believed to have contributed to California’s extreme drought, Bond and Mantua said. The ridge suppressed storms and winds that commonly stir and cool the sea surface.

Other factors created the patch of warm water hugging the Central California Coast south to Baja California. A low-pressure trough between California and Hawaii weakened the winds that typically drive upwelling of deep, cold water along the California Coast. Without those winds waters off Southern California’s beaches have stayed unusually warm.

NOAA surveys off California in July found jellyfish called “sea nettles” and ocean sunfish, which the warmer waters likely carried closer to shore, Mantua said. Anglers have reported excellent fishing for warm water species including yellowfin tuna, yellowtail and dorado, also known as mahi-mahi.

Research surveys in the Gulf of Alaska this summer came across species such as pomfret, ocean sunfish, blue shark and thresher shark often associated with warmer water, said Joe Orsi of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center Auke Bay Laboratories in Juneau. He said temperatures in the upper 20 meters of water up to 65 kilometers offshore were 0.8 degrees C (about 1.4 degrees F) above normal in both June and July.

The potential arrival of El Niño later this year would likely reinforce the warming and its effects on marine ecosystems, Bond said. NOAA’s National Weather Service estimates a 65 percent chance El Niño will emerge in fall or early winter.

Mantua noted that fall in California generally brings even weaker winds and weaker upwelling, making it likely that the warm waters off Central California will persist and even expand northward regardless of a tropical El Niño.

mapUnusually warm temperatures dominate three areas of the North Pacific: the Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska and an area off Southern California. The darker the red, the further above average the sea surface temperature. NOAA researchers are tracking the temperatures and their implications for marine life.

MolaNOAA research surveys in the Gulf of Alaska this summer turned up ocean sunfish, also known as mola, which are often associated with warmer waters.

ThresherSharkThresher sharks were among the species associated with warmer waters that turned up in research surveys in the Gulf of Alaska this summer.

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Sep 13 2014

Eating fish could lower your risk of hearing loss: study


All it takes is two or more servings per week, and it doesn’t matter what kind you consume. The omega-3 fats in fish help preserve hearing, it seems.

AFP RELAXNEWS | Thursday, September 11, 2014, 12:46 PM
ElenaGaak / According to recent research, two or more servings of fish per week could reduce women’s chances of hearing loss by as much as 20%.

According to researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, two or more servings of fish per week could lower women’s risk of acquired hearing loss.

“Consumption of any type of fish (tuna, dark fish, light fish, or shellfish) tended to be associated with lower risk,” says corresponding author Dr. Sharon G. Curhan, MD, of BWH Channing Division of Network Medicine. “These findings suggest that diet may be important in the prevention of acquired hearing loss.”

In the massive cohort study, researchers tracked a total 65,215 women from 1991 to 2009.

Overall, participants self-reported 11,606 cases of incident hearing loss, and data analysis indicates that the women who consumed fish at least twice per week showed a 20% lower risk of hearing loss than the women who seldom ate fish.

Case-by-case observation revealed that higher consumption of each of the aforementioned fish types and increased intake of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the women’s diets showed benefits for hearing preservation.

“Acquired hearing loss is a highly prevalent and often disabling chronic health condition,” says Dr. Curhan. “Although a decline in hearing is often considered an inevitable aspect of aging, the identification of several potentially modifiable risk factors has provided new insight into possibilities for prevention or delay of acquired hearing loss.”

The study was published in the journal American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


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Sep 9 2014

How Fishing Makes You A Better Person (According To Science)


Fishing is one of the most accessible outdoor sports. Nearly anyone, no matter age, income level or even fitness ability, can easily participate. And the sport is no longer the boys’ club it was once thought of either. Of the 46 million Americans who fish today, over one third of them are women, according to a new report released by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation. There’s also growing age and ethnic diversity within the sport.

Whether they grew up heading out onto the lake every Sunday with Grandpa or are one of the millions trying the sport for the first time every year, those who fish have a direct connection to health and well-being. Here’s how fishing can help you lead a happier, healthier life.

Fishing can keep you physically fit.
While fishing itself isn’t necessarily going to get your heart rate up, many of the best fishing spots require a bit of paddling, biking or hiking to reach, all of which have proven cardiovascular benefits. “You can make your fishing excursion as physical as you want,” Janna Superstein, president of fly fishing company Superfly International Inc., tells The Huffington Post. She stresses, however, that you don’t need to be incredibly active to participate. “Even just getting out there, you’ll still get the benefits of the outdoors and maybe that’s the beginning of a new fit, healthy lifestyle,” she says.

Of course, just spending time outside is good for your body and your brain. The outdoors gives us plenty of vitamin D (but don’t forget the SPF!), makes us happier and helps us age gracefully.

Fly fishing — a specific type of fishing that incorporates artificial “flies” and a weighted line — may also help women with breast cancer recover. Groups like Casting for Recovery combine breast cancer education with the sport as a form of support, therapy and exercise. Casting for Recovery’s site says that the gentle motion of fly casting resembles exercises often prescribed after surgery or radiation to promote soft tissue stretching. The group is designed for women of all ages in all stages of treatment and recovery.

Fish are an excellent source of nutrition.
fish dish
While not all who fish keep what they catch, those who do may be in for some bonus benefits. Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may decrease blood pressure and lower the risk of stroke and heart failure. They could also reduce irregular heartbeats and improve brain function in children, according to the Mayo Clinic.

In addition to heart and brain health, research shows that eating fish can save your eyesight, decrease the risk of asthma, protect your skin from UV-rays and cut your chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis in half. Some research suggests that eating a fish-heavy diet could even help reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Eating fish could help you live longer.
All of that healthy eating pays off. Some credit the long lifespan of the Japanese to a fish- and veggie-heavy diet. Japanese women have the longest life expectancy in the world, at 87 years, according to the World Health Organization. And while men in Japan aren’t quite as lucky, they do live to an average age of 80.

Fishing may reduce stress.
fishing pole
Many fishermen (and women!) would agree that the gentle lapping of waves and tug on a fishing line is enough to push any stress far from the mind. “Just doing the activity relieves pressure and creates sense of excitement,” Frank Peterson, president and CEO of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, tells The Huffington Post.

Of the nine percent of Americans currently considering taking up the sport, 38 percent of them are interested in it as a means of relieving stress, according to the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation report. In a country where 80 percent of us report feeling even more stressed or equally stressed each year and only 37 percent of us actually think we’re doing a good job at managing it, finding a way to relax is vital to our mental and physical health.

For many, a day of casting line is the answer because research shows that focusing on any one activity at hand can be a fast track to stress reduction. “When you’re fishing, you have to be mindful,” Superstein says. “You have to be present in order to observe what’s happening with the fish and catch them.”

The sport may decrease symptoms of PTSD.
The combination of mental relaxation and an easy form of exercise could also help those who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. A 2009 study shows that fishing can lower PTSD symptoms and increase the mood of those who suffer from the disorder. After three days of fly fishing, participants reported a 32 percent reduction in guilt and a 43 percent decrease in feelings of hostility. The feeling of fear was also reduced by 30 percent, and sadness dropped by 36 percent. A portion of these positive effects remained even a full month after the fishing retreat.

Plus, it helps you unplug.
pool of fish
Some of the mental benefits of fishing may be thanks to the opportunity it offers for us to unplug from our digital lives and enjoy nature. Sure, many love to snap shots of their big catches for various forms of social media or to print off and frame the old-fashioned way — “Before there were selfies, there were ‘fishies’,” says Peterson. And 50 percent of us use technology — whether for music, pictures or GPS — when participating in outdoor activities, according to the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation. But overall, fishing offers a way to cut back on screen time. “It gives us a chance to unplug from daily lives and plug into something completely natural,” Superstein says. “We can then recharge our batteries in a natural way.”

Interested in taking up the sport yourself? So you’re ready to feast on a fresh catch. Luckily, it’s easier to start fishing than you may think. We talked to an expert to find the best tips for beginner fly fishers:

  • First, get rid of the misconceptions. Contrary to popular belief, fly fishing isn’t only done for trout in mountain streams. According to Superstein, you can actually do it in saltwater, lakes, ponds and rivers.
  • Invest in a starter kit. If you’re a total newbie, look into buying a starter kit that includes a rod, reel, line and flies. Some even come with the necessary knots already tied. And don’t feel like you have to spend a fortune, Superstein says. “Spending more money on gear doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to catch more fish.”
  • Ask the experts. From weather to season to type of fish, there are so many variables to take into account that Superstein cautions against sticking to any hard and fast rules for catching more. Instead, check with people who know the area. Ask fellow boaters, workers at the bait shop or members of local fishing clubs for the best spots to fish and the best type of bait or fly to use.
  • Explore the waters close to home. There’s no need to venture into the depths of the woods or up a mountain to a small trout stream. Fishing is likely more accessible than you think. You can fish in the heart of downtown Chicago or on the Hudson River in New York City and still get the benefits of nature while living in an urban setting, Superstein says.
  • Go whenever you can. While some only fish in the early morning and others swear by the first thaw of spring, Superstein warns against letting these restrictions hold you back. If you want to fish, go fish. “To quote my father,” she says. “‘The best time to fish is whenever you can,’ because for the most part, it’s not about the fish, it’s about getting out on the water.”

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Aug 29 2014

Focusing In: Collaborative Fisheries Research West

Collaborative Fisheries Research West is a program that supports and facilitates research involving fishermen, managers and scientists. Unlike other cases we have examined, this is a program dedicated to supporting one very particular kind of citizen science. In this summary we describe the approach that CFR West has taken to supporting collaborative fisheries research — the principles and practices that they instill through their program — using the same framework that we have applied to citizen science programs in previous blog posts.

The Basics
Collaborative Fisheries Research West is a not-for-profit organization that develops partnerships between fishermen, managers, and scientists for the purpose of contributing to fisheries science and management, for example: bycatch reduction, gear recovery, population structure, or seafood markets. CFR West may fund projects directly, provide project management and oversight or contribute scientific expertise to these efforts. Projects must abide by a set of ten principles (link is external), the first of which is that projects must be relevant to fisheries management. The last round of funding, supported by the California Ocean Protection Council, committed over $1.1 million to 15 projects.

Program Participation
While all of the CFR West projects involve collaborators from the fishing community, participation varies amongst individual projects. Some are instigated by fishermen: for example, conducting aerial sardine surveys to complement acoustic-trawl surveys conducted by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Another project collects life history information on night smelt by beach fishermen in northern California. Others are driven by management needs x for example, an experiment to test the effect of trap hole diameters on the size distribution of hagfish was led by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. All, however, are required to maintain close cooperation and communication amongst all three partner types, from identifying the research questions and determining best methods through data collection to data interpretation. This is one of the highest forms of collaboration and is recognized by scholars of participation to be an effective means to integrate different worldviews towards a common goal.

Fishermen get involved with the program often because they do not see the best available science used to inform management decisions – possibly because there xs not much available science. In these cases, fishermen lend their expertise to help steward the resource in the future. Managers are motivated to work together to improve the data available for developing regulations and policy. Scientists share a similar motivation – a desire to better understand fisheries ecology in order to support the livelihoods, economy, and ecosystems that depend on fisheries, and, of course, an interest in learning how populations and ecosystems respond to recreational and commercial fishing pressure.

Meeting the Mission by Balancing Goals
CFR West has the following mission statement:
CFR West engages commercial and recreational fishermen, resource managers, tribes, nongovernmental organizations, and scientists by facilitating and supporting applied research focused on fisheries and fisheries resources and their human dimensions. Through open and collaborative partnerships, CFR West contributes to the management of sustainable marine resources, and fosters the stewardship of those resources.
Data from CFR West are used for both scientific and management applications, which helps connect science and policy. This connection bolsters the sometimes flagging trust between fishermen and managers, who can have a conversation about the data and how they are interpreted. For the fishermen, participation fosters a sense of stewardship for the resource and participants report that taking on these responsibilities can be rewarding.
The stewardship aspect of this mission, aside from producing management-relevant science, brings together a diverse group of stakeholders in research and fosters a stewardship ethic among these communities. The manner in which CFR West implements its multi-faceted mission is affected heavily by the uncertainty and nature of its funding. As a result, most projects are, by necessity, short term and the means for maintaining continued support for long term monitoring, a requirement for good fishery management, are limited at best.

Data Types Good for a Citizen Science Approach
Collaborative fisheries research is designed to utilize expertise in the fishing industry gained largely through daily experience on the water or practical experience gained on the job. There are many avenues for such integration of expertise, as demonstrated by the wide diversity of projects under the CFR West umbrella. They are mostly unified by research that includes a large amount of fieldwork, as time on the water is the best place to share and demonstrate the experiential knowledge of fishermen.

Data Uses

Scientific Uses
The scientific partners in each of these projects generally make sure that the data contributes to the appropriate body of scientific literature. A number of the projects also enroll graduate students in the work, who use the data as part of their thesis work.

Management Uses

In addition to the data from the research projects, lessons learned from the research process itself can inform management. CFR West projects must be completed or transferred to an agency within three years, and some projects serve as pilots for potentially long-term programs within management agencies.

Scientific Credibility

verification of data quality

The collaborative aspect of CFR West xs approach promotes trust-building among participants in the program, and a degree of data verification happens through reputation-building of the investigators as trustworthy brokers of information. Otherwise, the data is reviewed the same way as most other fisheries research – by undergoing review as part of the process of making management decisions through the Pacific Marine Fishery Council, the Department of Fish and Wildlife or the National Marine Fisheries Service, as well as the peer-review process of publishing in academic journals and presenting at scientific conferences. CFR West also makes an effort to disseminate project results widely to include fishing communities and the interested public in a manner that is generally accessible to the non-scientist. For example, the results of the hagfish trap experiment were presented at meetings held in key port communities from Morro Bay to Eureka. This too functions as a kind of peer review, whereby those not involved in the research process have an opportunity to consider the projects and their results and provide input to CFR West and project collaborators.

raw data transparency and access

Every project must make the data publicly available unless there xs a specific sensitivity, but the logistics of this access can be tricky. Results published in scientific journals (a common product of these projects) often reside behind paywalls, so the fishing partners often do not have access, plus raw data is not always included. In addition, fisherman participants worry about sharing spatially explicit data, which might give away lucrative fishing spots or invite legal battles with DFW enforcement.

clarity of communications

Communicating about the scientific process comes primarily in the form of participation – fishermen, scientists, and managers are all invited to spend time designing the research, collection data, or otherwise observing the research process firsthand. Similarly, post-project community presentations and outreach materials offers everyone an opportunity to learn. One of the major challenges, however, is to design these in such a way that they are accessible to all.

willingness and capability to adapt methods

CFR West is currently beginning a process of evaluating itself. The evaluation will form the basis of plans for future collaborative research as well fundraising strategies. Some of the projects will live on, as they include plans to develop a strategy for future activity. The crab gear recovery project, for example, has developed a long-range plan to convert the effort to a largely industry-funded one, including work with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to address legal issues that would otherwise interfere with the process.

Program Sustainability

Since the CFR West program focuses heavily on creating trusting relationships between fishermen, managers and scientists, it depends especially heavily on equal participation – xtrue collaboration x – through all the intellectual and economic aspects of the project. One of the challenges CFR West faces is that the funding is structured around short-term projects, while maintaining these relationships requires some standing level of base funding. Another challenge is that the nature of a traditional request for proposals, so familiar to scientists, is foreign to fishermen; ways of encouraging these fishermen to come forward with their own ideas that would benefit from collaboration should be developed.
Just like any research, collaborative fisheries research has some resource needs that are critical to success of the program. Many of these needs are specific to the research question at hand – for example, equipment and data analysis software. But there are a couple of additional resources peculiar to collaborative fisheries arrangements:

  • coordinator, especially to connect potential partners.
  • payment for fishing partner xs time (managers and scientists are generally salaried employees; if they are not fishing, fishermen are not earning a living)
  • data management and regulating data access

Looking Toward the Future

Collaborative fisheries research is a subset of the broader citizen science community. It is one that celebrates and values the experiential expertise of fishermen. Yet, to date on the Central Coast, there are no models that blend collaborative fisheries research (with commercial fishermen) and more typical citizen science, which often focuses on long-term monitoring. Such a program might look something like fishermen recording observations while out on the water daily. Collaborative fisheries research is an evolving model, and for the long term, one that needs to collect quality data without huge injections of grant money. This can be done, but the model that demonstrates this goal does not appear to be out there yet.

For existing projects, the future holds a program evaluation. The CFR West director, Peter Nelson, says he is interested in participants x sense of what collaborative research is and if their feelings on the process changed over the course of their project. In addition, CFR West might shift its attention a bit – to be less of a grant-making institution and more of a boundary organization that helps cement relationships between the many partners in the fishing industry, management, and academic science.

kirk_lynn_cfr_westAerial sardine surveys. Photo by Kirk Lynn, CDFW

lyall_bellquist_cfrwestTag and release study of Paralabrax spp. Photo by Lyall Bellquist.

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