Sea Around Us discusses future during annual retreat


Photo by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud.

The setting was ideal: The ocean on one side, the forest on the other.

There wasn’t a sound to be heard except that of a few seagulls, a sea lion somewhere, the waves lashing back and forth, and the enthusiastic team of the Sea Around Us talking about plans and projects for the coming years.

It was all part of the Sea Around Us’ annual retreat, which took place on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast on November 4th-6th, 2016.

Leaders Daniel Pauly, Dirk Zeller, and Deng Palomares traveled with associated faculty, staff, and students with the idea of updating everyone on everything: from finances to exciting new initiatives and potential new directions.

Photo by Deng Palomares.

Photo by Deng Palomares.

What’s coming next?

The main purpose of the retreat was to discuss and evaluate future potential focal points for Sea Around Us research and activities, following on from the major success of the global paper in Nature Communications and the recent publication of the Global Atlas of Marine Fisheries by Island Press.

Topics that were discussed for likely focus starting in 2017 include assessing the impact of climate change via the mean temperature of the catch, in species distributions and, thus, in productivity. Additional likely topics may include the costs and benefits of establishing marine protected areas, which are known to require less investment than ‘negative subsidies’ that encourage fishers to fish more rather than less.

Of particular interest to the Sea Around Us is the (re-)integration of fishing gear information into its catch data, in order to revive the ‘catch by gear type’ data dimension. Additional areas of data integration interest rest also with the data sets being created by the Sea Around Us on global fishing capacity, and options for species-level stock assessments using novel ‘data-poor’ approaches.

Special emphasis will also be placed on ensuring that more and more catch reconstructions are embedded in the peer-reviewed literature, as well as producing regionally focused books on marine fisheries issues, e.g., for the Mediterranean and Black Seas, the Coral Triangle or the Caribbean or Pacific Islands regions.

Photos by Myriam Khalfaliah.

Daniel Pauly, Deng Palomares, Dirk Zeller. Photos by Myriam Khalfaliah.

The Sea Around Us is also planning to deepen its relationship and collaboration with FishBase and SeaLifeBase on matters of biodiversity and related data and analytical issues.

And more groundbreaking projects that link existing data with new layers of research are starting to be explored by Sea Around Us’ leaders, associated faculty, research assistants, and students. Stay tuned to see what will emerge over the next months and years.

Dirk Zeller emphasized that in addition to the Sea Around Us team, it is also important that other scientists, NGOs, and governments across the globe make use of the data, information and tools available for free on the website. The Sea Around Us welcomes and encourages the scientific and NGO community to make use of our data for analyses and conservation actions.

“You can start by following the entry point of the website and go deeper, or you can through an indicator, such as the marine trophic index or the stock-status plots, and work on these topics that are driven by catch data,” he explained.

Photo by Deng Palomares.

Photo by Deng Palomares.

Team building

Besides holding intense, thought-provoking and deeply engaged discussions, the group also found some time to connect, get to know each other better, exchange ideas, and relax in the tranquil setting of the Sunshine Coast.

Besides indulging themselves on delicious, West Coast-style, and locally sourced family-style meals at the Rockwater Secret Cove Resort, the Sea Around Us members also enjoyed calming walks around the beach, quiet time to draw and read, and the opportunity to be in touch with nature and take gorgeous photographs.

Photo by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud.

Photo by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud.

Photo gallery:

And a relaxing video: