[env-trinity] Study: Fisheries Mgt Too Slow To Account For Climate Change, Human Behavior
sari at sisqtel.net
Fri Oct 16 12:46:13 PDT 2009
THE COLUMBIA BASIN BULLETIN:
Weekly Fish and Wildlife News
October 16, 2009
Issue No. 504
* Study: Fisheries Management Too Slow To Account
For Climate Change, Human Behavior
A new analysis of fisheries management concludes
that climate change will significantly increase
the variability of the size and location of many
fish populations, creating uncertainty for
fisheries managers -- and the need for greater flexibility.
Most management processes are slow and
cumbersome, as well as rigid, the authors say,
and don't adequately take climate change and human behavior into account.
"What climate change will do is pit the increased
resource variability against the rigidity of the
process," said Susan Hanna, a fishery economist
from Oregon State University and co-author of the
report. "Over time, managers will have to become
more conservative to account for the greater
uncertainty, and we will need to do a better job
of understanding the effect of uncertainty on human behavior."
The study focuses on seven short international
case studies in fisheries management -- including
Columbia River basin salmon. It is being
published in the journal Marine Policy.
Hanna said that while most fishery management
models incorporate the latest data on fish
populations and distribution, they are not
adapted to incorporate climate data. That can be
problematic when an El Niño looms, or other
oceanic conditions have a negative impact on
fisheries. Such was the case in 2005, when a
delay in the spring upwelling had a catastrophic
effect on ocean production, which many biologists
say caused the recent collapse of salmon runs on
the Klamath and Sacramento rivers.
Shorter fishing seasons and lower quotas are
understandably frustrating for commercial and
recreational fishermen, Hanna said.
"Human psychology can work against fishery
management because our expectations are based on
the high range of fish populations, not the low
end," she said. "In salmon fisheries, the
conditions of the 1970s may be taken as the norm,
when in fact they represented an all-time high."
Hanna is a professor in the Department of
Agricultural and Resource Economics who works out
of OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center in
Newport. She is affiliated with the Coastal
Oregon Marine Experiment Station and Oregon Sea
Grant, and has served as a science adviser to the
Pacific Fishery Management Council, the Northwest
Power and Conservation Council, the National
Marine Fisheries Service, the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.
The need for better human behavioral data is
acute, Hanna said. While resource managers have
plenty of information about numbers of fishermen,
where they fish and what they fish for, there is
less knowledge about how people will react to
changes in regulation -- or how they will adapt to climate change.
"We have a history of implementing regulations
that have unintended consequences," Hanna said.
She cites as an example what happens when
managers limit the number of boats in a fishery
with the idea of limiting fishing effort. The
result can be just the opposite, Hanna points
out. "A boat limit as the single control over a
fishing effort will give those who have the
permits the incentive to invest in more speed and
more gear to boost their fishing power and become
more effective at catching fish.
"Managing resources," she said, "is all about incentives."
Management also is becoming more complicated -- a
situation that may be exacerbated by changes in
ocean conditions, whether natural or triggered by
humans. There are many groups with claims on
salmon resources, Hanna pointed out, from ocean
trollers and river gill netters, to Native
American tribes and recreational anglers. And
management cuts across many boundaries.
In the past, Hanna said, fishermen could adjust
to closures or shortened seasons by switching to
different species. Now, she says, most fisheries are fully subscribed.
"If it's a bad year for salmon, you can't just
switch to crabbing or fishing for rockfish unless
you have the permits," Hanna pointed out. "It's
not a question of gear, but of access."
Hanna said West Coast fishermen are progressive.
They contribute to the knowledge base through
cooperative research and participate in
management decision-making processes. While some
may grumble about regulations, she said, they
generally see the need for management and are
often in the lead in proposing new management approaches.
"Fishing operations are regulated businesses that
fare more successfully the better they are
understood," Hanna said. "We need to do a better
job of knowing how fishermen will respond to
changes in catch rates and length of season if we
want to continue to have sustainable fisheries --
because greater uncertainty lies ahead."
Other authors on the study include Alistair
McIlgorm of Southern Cross University in
Australia; Gunnar Knapp, the University of
Alaska-Anchorage; Pascal Le Floc'H, University of
Brest in France; Frank Millerd, Wilfrid Laurier
University in Canada; and Minling Pan, of NOAA Fisheries Service in Hawaii.
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