Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Written by Adrianne Madden
Thursday, 26 May 2011
Scientists in Florida this week are asking a question that has been on the lips of many Gulf Coast fishermen for more than a year: What are the long-term effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill?
A two-day meeting at the University of Central Florida among scientists whose efforts are being coordinated by the Florida Institute of Oceanography — using $10 million in grant monies from BP — gives me hope that someone is trying to get to the bottom of things.
The angle the scientists are taking is that some degree of ecological collapse could be taking place, but the scientific community may not yet have the knowledge and tools to predict and measure it.
What "it" is remains to be seen. However, this seems to me to be an exemplary case for the precautionary principle.
How many fishery management tools have been implemented without adequate data but with the understanding that we must protect one species or another "just in case"?
And yet, when it came to a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration's immediate response was to assume all was well.
The scientific community is increasingly eager and willing to work with fishermen. It's time for policy-makers to realize that fishermen's anecdotal reports have value, as well.
We need to stop trying to fit our management of fisheries and oceans into bar graphs and start treating them like part of a living, ever-changing, sometimes-unpredictable ecosystem.
The more information we can gather from a variety of sources, the closer we will get to truly managing fisheries.
The Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance recently announced that the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation has awarded the organization a Hollings Grant to reduce whale entanglements in Alaska salmon fisheries by increasing the use of acoustic whale pingers to minimize entanglements in fishing gear.
Last week, Alaska senators Lisa Murkowski (R), Dan Sullivan (R) and Rep. Don Young (R) asked Secretary of State John Kerry to negotiate with Canadian leaders to make sure appropriate environmental safeguards are in place for mine development in Southeast Alaska.
The congressional delegation explained the importance of this issue to Alaskans and the need for assurances that the water quality in transboundary waters between Alaska and Canada will be maintained.Read more...