Posts Tagged University of Washington

Jun 13 2016

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

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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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