Complexity is the confounding principle in the process of fishery regulation. It has led to confusion, acrimony, litigation and fear among the myriad stakeholders in the Northeast Multi-Species Fishery.

A study released last week by NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole tackles complexity in a way that should empower regulators who are trying to balance conservation and economic goals, keeping the fishery profitable and preparing for an uncertain, changing ocean environment.

Regulators — the New England Fishery Management Council in the Northeast fishery — have been spinning their wheels until recently trying to respond to data about fish landings and species biomass without information that accurately depicts the changing environment.

Fish landings and biomass provide irreplaceable data for regulators to include in their decisions, but without scientific measurements on aspects of the broader environment — ocean temperatures, currents, salinity, acidity — it becomes less likely that prescriptions will be effective, and impossible to construct policies with any reach beyond a season or two of fishing. In other words, for fishing regulations to achieve intended goals, regulators cannot ignore the oceanic imbalance that has brought dramatic and rapid changes; their disruption of species’ behavior and biology is far beyond the limits of certainty, beyond the limits of traditional regulation.

Read the full story at New Bedford Standard-Times >>

Read more about fishery management >>

Have you listened to this article via the audio player above?

If so, send us your feedback around what we can do to improve this feature or further develop it. If not, check it out and let us know what you think via email or on social media.

A collection of stories from guest authors.

Join the Conversation