Finding Common Ground in Marine Conservation and Management

Principal Investigator(s): 

Ray Hilborn and Boris Worm

There is increasing concern among scientists and the general public about the current state of marine fisheries and their supporting ecosystems. Recent scientific progress on this topic has been partly overshadowed by significant controversy on how to assess marine resources and how to address current problems in ocean management. Marine ecologists and fisheries scientists often tend to favor contrasting approaches, and we observe that these schools of thought have polarized over time. We now recognize this situation as counterproductive and propose to address this controversy where possible. In the proposed Working Group we are trying to define common ground among marine ecologists and fishery scientists by (1) developing a unifying terminology and a common analytical framework for assessing marine fisheries and ecosystem change, (2) applying this framework to a number of representative marine ecosystems around the globe, and (3) assessing management successes and failures in order to identify a set of tools that have been proven to reverse trends of degradation in marine fish stocks and ecosystems. This process should also identify areas of continued disagreement, important for focusing future research. In a final step we will present our conclusions to managers, NGO and government agencies, helping them to understand the progress that has been made. The central question we are trying to answer is: how can we merge contrasting objectives, tools, and scientific criteria among marine ecology, fisheries science, and management into a unifying framework. We envision that this group will be acting as a catalyst for joining scientific forces in a quest to sustain and restore valuable marine resources. 

Major publications produced by this group have been featured in the media in 2011, 2010 and 2009. The 2009 publication "Rebuilding Global Fisheries" was also awarded the Sustainability Science Award from the Ecological Society of America (ESA).

More information about this research project, participants and publications.

Related NCEAS Distributed Graduate Seminar