A major component of fisheries management is using highly complex computer models to figure out the highest catch that can be taken from a fish population—the so-called Maximum Sustainable Yield, or MSY. A critical assumption underlying MSY estimates is how to model the relation between total amount of spawning fish and the resulting offspring that they produce. A new paper by SAFS director André Punt and NOAA researcher Jason Cope examines a wide range of these models to find the best three-parameter version that can independently estimate both the amount of spawning fish and the fishing harvest rate that will produce MSY, concluding that the Ricker-Power model is the best.
A new review of the contribution of genomics to seafood management reveals how new questions may be addressed by genetics. Genomics involves sequencing the complete DNA of organisms, which has a great variety of applications, including greatly enhancing our ability to define management units, tracing whether seafood is being labelled correctly when sold, identifying how often salmon stray from their streams of origin, detecting seafood diseases, and measuring the extent of fisheries-induced evolution.
There is potential to increase ocean catches by 14% and ocean profits from fishing by 79%, by rebuilding overfished stocks, fishing more on under-fished populations, and improving fisheries with little effective management. The new research was published in Marine Policy by SAFS professor Ray Hilborn and UCSB professor Christopher Costello.
A new study looks at clams and mussels in five estuaries in Puget Sound, and finds that alterations to river flow, landscape connectivity among adjacent habitat types, or the type and supply of suspended organic matter (detritus), can disrupt food webs at the scale of entire landscapes. Clams and mussels, which cannot move to track food sources, are particularly affected by climate variability, levee systems, water diversion from estuaries, and dwindling availability of detritus due to loss of tidal marsh wetlands.
A new paper in Ecological Indicators by Hannah Linder and SAFS professor John Horne examines a wide range of statistical methods for detecting and forecasting change from monitoring studies. They found that different classes of models are needed to detect change, and to forecast the future effects of interventions such as building marine tidal turbines.
A front page investigative CNN article outlines how the Environmental Protection Agency reversed a decision to protect the most valuable salmon fishery in the world, giving the go-ahead for the Pebble Mine, one hour after the head met with the CEO of the Pebble Mine partnership. SAFS professor Thomas Quinn comments in the report: “This is the jewel in the crown of America’s fisheries resources – these salmon.
Fishing can substantially alter when fish migrate and when they breed, says a new review in Fish and Fisheries by SAFS student Michael Tillotson and faculty member Thomas Quinn. For example, fishing closures may increase fishing on late breeders, resulting in a greater proportion of early breeders in the population. Such changes can exacerbate the effects of climate-driven changes in the timing of migration and breeding.
Faculty member Julian Olden and others in ChronicleVitae urge scientists to see their careers as “an adventure on a long and winding path” that involves interacting with nature and making their science relevant. Instead of focusing on publishing small units of science, we should be embracing the spirit of discovery and striving for societal impact.
Citizen scientists in a program run by Julia Parrish provided data about two mass die-offs of seabirds on the outer coast of Washington state, which is the largest mass death ever to be definitively ascribed to harmful algal blooms. The new report was authored by SAFS postdoc Timothy Jones, with other SAFS contributions from Julia Parrish, André Punt, and Jennifer Lang, as part of the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST; a citizen science program at the University of Washington).