VIDEO: How much is fished in your country’s waters?

Photo by Alper Çuğun, Flickr.

Trawl nets, drift nets, longlines, etc. have allowed fleets across the world to turn their fishing operations into massive extractive activities.

In several countries’ Exclusive Economic Zones, such expansion has led to depleted fish stocks. Some of those countries, however, have enough capital to buy access to other countries’ waters, extract their resources and sell them across continents. “They are just exporting the problem,” the Sea Around Us Senior Scientist Dirk Zeller has said.


Continue reading

Developing love for fishery data

Ar’ash Tavakolie

Ar’ash Tavakolie

At some point in his life after having been in Vancouver for a few years and being done with his Ph.D. at UBC, Ar’ash Tavakolie really wanted to join an organization working to make the world a better place.

He wanted, of course, to put his engineering and machine-learning skills to good use, so he was looking for a place where data processing and knowledge creation were the focal points. That is how he landed, a decade ago, at the Sea Around Us. “The fact that it was in marine conservation also encouraged me. I felt I could pay my dues to the environment,” he says with a smile.

Ar’ash loves that, through the collaborative work he was doing with the Sea Around Us team, he was able to help spread the word about how much countries are (over)fishing and the dangerous situation in which fisheries are putting the world’s fish stocks.

Continue reading

Climate change has impacted global fisheries for decades

CheungGraphic_web_editedA new paper from the Sea Around Us Project published in the journal Nature reveals that warmer ocean temperatures are driving marine species towards cooler, deeper waters, and this in turn, has affected global fisheries catches.

William Cheung, Reg Watson and Daniel Pauly used temperature preferences of fish and other marine species as a sort of “thermometer” to assess effects of climate change on the world’s oceans between 1970 and 2006. They found that global fisheries catches were increasingly dominated by warm-water species.

Click on the image to see how the catch composition of global fisheries has changed in different parts of the world.

To find out more about the research you can access the following resources:
Comment piece in Nature News & Views
Press release
Article published in Nature

Sea Around Us Bridges Science and Society

The theme at the 2010 AAAS annual meeting held in San Diego, CA in mid-February was Bridging Science and Society. Sea Around Us members delivered on this theme in three different sessions. Daniel Pauly presented on a panel that showed the growing consensus among fisheries scientists. Although global overfishing is becoming an accepted premise, questions inevitably arose on the future of aquaculture. Pauly explained that it would be wrong to look at gladiator tournaments and vilify sports, when there is curling; similarly, it would be wrong to look at salmon farming and vilify aquaculture, when there are oyster farms.

Metaphors are powerful communication tools. So are 3-D visualizations, especially in a world that is already too big and too fast-paced to keep track of information. Can we help manage the future by allowing people to see it? To address this question, Villy Christensen co-organized a panel on the use of visualizations to bridge science and society for sustainability.

The Sea Around Us Project’s Sherman Lai showed the game-like tool he and Christensen developed to allow users to visualize the real-time effects of their fishing decisions (see photo). Multiple players can watch how their choices would play out on the underwater world using a video game interface that can also display the embedded EcoSim models. These tools, currently used in immersion labs like our own in the Fisheries Centre, are designed to allow managers to experience the results of potential policies. The panel also discussed the potential for these tools online.

Jennifer Jacquet and her other panel members discussed non-regulatory means of enhancing cooperation – namely through reputation and shame. Ralf Sommerfeld, a recent graduate who worked with the Max Planck Institute, presented several of his new game theoretical studies showing that gossip and reputation can lead to increases in overall cooperation. Jacquet proposed we migrate away from guilt-based efforts in conservation (e.g. eco-labels) and toward shame-based strategies, which we can use to motivate large-scale resource users. To show evidence of this in the real world, John Hocevar, head of oceans campaigns for Greenpeace USA, presented Greenpeace work to affect retailer reputation to encourage greater cooperation.

The Sea Around Us members also participated in the COMPASS marine mixer with scientists and journalists and talks on designing and implementing large-scale marine reserves. AAAS was truly a meeting to bridge science and society.