For more information about the 2017 Bevan Series speakers and their talk, click the name below or simply scroll down.

5 Jan Phillip Levin Precisely Unsustainable: The Failure of Fisheries Science in the Age of Multiple Objectives
12 Jan Francisco Werner Data Needs (or Not): A Framework for the Future of Fisheries and Ecosystem Assessment
19 Jan Geoff Shester The Role of Data in Conserving West Coast Marine Ecosystems
26 Jan Emmett Duffy Can Data Democracy Save the World? It’s Worth a Try
2 Feb Molly Lutcavage Tangled up in Atlantic Bluefin: Data, Science, Values and Outcomes
9 Feb Stefan Gelcich Stewardship, Innovation and Scalability in Small-scale Fisheries. Data Insights from Chilean Territorial User Rights
16 Feb Alistair Hobday Fish, Fishers, and Fisheries: Data Needs for a Changing Climate
23 Feb Natalie Ban Fisheries Management, Indigenous Rights and the Use of Local and Traditional Knowledge
2 Mar Tierney Thys Data, Documentaries and Decision-making
9 Mar Christy Pattengill-Semmens Deploying the Citizen Army: Building Powerful, Purposeful Datastreams


Phillip Levin

University of Washington, College of the Environment

The Nature Conservancy

Precisely Unsustainable: The Failure of Fisheries Science in the Age of Multiple Objectives

Anyone trying to communicate about sustainable fisheries quickly runs into difficulties.  The most common definition of sustainability, “development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” first appeared in the World Commission on Environment and Development’s report, Our Common Future.  This concept has been adopted for fisheries with a focus on supporting food security now and into the future.  The institutions supporting this notation of sustainability require massive amounts of information in order to ensure that we take the maximum amount of seafood from the ocean without harming the long-term productivity of the fishery.  However, high precision monitoring is costly, requires analysis and storage of massive datasets, and can delay decision making.  I argue that this mammoth effort has provided us everything we need to create a system that is precisely unsustainable.  By focusing on one aspect of sustainability our institutions have marginalized ecological and social aspects of seafood sustainability and hampered the development of corresponding data development.  Ultimately, the value of information underlying truly sustainable fisheries is determined by a dialogue among those with diverse values and institutions that fairly and equitably considers those values.

Phillip Levin is the lead scientist of The Nature Conservancy, Washington and a Professor-of-Practice in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington. Dr. Levin is a conservation scientist who is interested in bridging the gaps between theory and practice in conservation, and developing modeling and statistical approaches to inform conservation and management of marine ecosystems. The main focus of his current work is developing interdisciplinary tools to inform conservation of marine food webs and the indigenous communities that depend on them.  Dr. Levin received the Department of Commerce Silver Award and NOAA’s Bronze Medal for his work on marine ecosystems, and the Seattle Aquarium’s Conservation Research Award for his work in Puget Sound. He received his Ph.D. in zoology from the University of New Hampshire in 1993 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina.

Francisco Werner

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Data Needs (or Not): A Framework for the Future of Fisheries and Ecosystem Assessment

werner_pic_croppedFisheries and ecosystems are in differing stages of assessment. Some may be data-limited, while others may be limited by the robustness of our assessment models. A framework for prioritization of data-needs is presented and the implications illustrated with examples. We also discuss how we might systematize improvements in assessments, i.e., areas and types of new investments, as well as areas where shifts in emphasis can be considered. Finally, it is worth remembering that neither observation or theory—data or model—are perfect. Both are separated from “truth” by errors of different origin. Proper interpretation of both requires an understanding of the underlying model and sampling method, and their errors.

Dr. Francisco (Cisco) Werner is the Director of NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center. Cisco’s research has focused on numerical models of marine ecosystems and the effects of physical forcing on the structure, function and abundance of commercially and ecologically important species. Cisco earned his BSc in Mathematics and his PhD in Oceanography from the University of Washington. Prior to joining NOAA, he was Chairman and Welsh Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Marine Sciences Department‚ and Professor and Director at Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences. From 2002 to 2007 he served as Chairman of the GLOBEC (Global Ocean Ecosystems Dynamics) Scientific Steering Committee.

Geoff Shester

California Campaign Director, Oceana

The Role of Data in Conserving West Coast Marine Ecosystems

shester_picUnder U.S. fisheries and environmental laws, managers must minimize and avoid bycatch, minimize the adverse effects of fishing on essential fish habitats, prevent overfishing and protect threatened and endangered species, among others, while managing for sustainable fisheries. Decisions must be based on best available science, even when data are limited and ecosystem impacts uncertain. In light of these challenges, Oceana uses science, law, and the public to advocate for policies that protect marine ecosystems and maintain vibrant fisheries.  Drawing from recent experiences and events surrounding the California anchovy fishery and groundfish essential fish habitat, I will discuss the role of fishery and environmental data in conservation advocacy, and describe practical applications of the precautionary approach in fishery management, even when data are limited.

Dr. Geoff Shester is Oceana’s California Campaign Director based in Monterey, where he leads undersea expeditions and advocates in state and federal U.S. West Coast management venues for protecting seafloor habitat, reducing fisheries bycatch, and implementing ecosystem-based management of forage fish.  He previously worked for the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council and served as Senior Science Manager for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.  While at Stanford University’s Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources out of Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey, he studied fleet dynamics and ecological impacts of small-scale fisheries in Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Emmett Duffy

Smithsonian, Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network

Can Data Democracy Save the World? It’s Worth a Try

duffy_picFisheries are special cases of interaction between prey and a uniquely efficient, generalist predator. Sustaining fisheries requires understanding interactions among fish, people, and our hybrid natural-technological ecosystems. Understanding in turn requires both cognitive contact with the system—that is, data—in its disparate forms, and systematic organization of that data, i.e., science. But sustainability technically means forever and this leads us into uncharted territory, arguably requiring a new model of science. I introduce the Smithsonian’s Marine Global Earth Observatory (MarineGEO), an experiment that aspires to produce solutions as emergent products of a loosely coordinated network: a data democracy.

Dr. Emmett Duffy is Director of the Smithsonian’s Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network and MarineGEO program, a growing global partnership documenting how and why coastal marine biodiversity is changing, and the consequences of change. He is a marine biologist who mainly studies who eats whom in seagrass and coral reef ecosystems worldwide, and contributes regularly to scientific syntheses linking biodiversity, climate, and ecosystem health. He was awarded an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship in 2006, Japan’s inaugural Kobe Prize in Marine Biology in 2011, and a Virginia Outstanding Faculty award in 2013.

Molly Lutcavage

UMass Boston, Large Pelagics Research Center

Tangled up in Atlantic Bluefin: Data, Science, Values and Outcomes

lutcavage_picNot long ago, Atlantic bluefin tuna, known as horse mackerel, were canned and processed for pet food. Within decades, its value and notoriety rocketed to the top of the charts of fisheries and conservation worlds.  Fishermen called out the mismatch between their perceptions of abundance with vocal distrust of stock assessments.  Yet despite intense management efforts and bitter discord about its population status, the itinerant bluefin tuna veiled key aspects of its life history across a long lifespan and vast ocean habitat. Through cooperative research partnerships and fishery-independent approaches outside of assessment “culture”, we narrowed this scientific divide with field studies and ecological modeling. I will show how overturning deeply held beliefs requires navigating a path among fisheries stakeholders, assessment scientists, policy makers and conservation advocates.

Dr. Molly Lutcavage is the founder and Director of the Large Pelagics Research Center and Research Professor, School for the Environment, UMass Boston.  Her laboratory conducts oceanographic studies on the movements, behavior and physiological ecology of tunas, billfish and marine turtles. Lutcavage’s research program is known for its partnerships with commercial and recreational fishermen in the US and Canada, and collaborations with international science teams and students. Her long term study of Atlantic bluefin tuna and pioneering use of electronic tags resulted in new understanding of their migration routes and life history. Lutcavage served on the first scientific steering committee of CLIOTOP (Climate Change Impact on Top Predators), the US Scientific Advisory Committee for ICCAT (1994-2012), the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Management Council SSC (2007-2016), and remains an advocate of basic ecological research to support sustainable fisheries.

Stefan Gelcich

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Stewardship, Innovation and Scalability in Small-scale Fisheries. Data Insights from Chilean Territorial User Rights

Territorial user rights for fisheries (TURFs) policiesgelcich_pic1 have become increasingly common tools to manage small scale fisheries. However, most TURF systems have failed to assess wide-ranging social and ecological conditions which can help understand impacts and design for further innovations. The types of data needed to foster adaptive and continuous innovation and the capacity for scale of innovative management are not usually part of fisheries programs. The impact of policies increase when small-scale fishery management programs are designed through the lens of potential participants, yet these issues have received little attention in research or practice. Through my work with small-scale marine fisheries in Chile I integrate the ecological and social science of small-scale fishery management to show the types of data that can provide enabling information to foster policy adjustments and continuous innovation. I also provide examples of the necessary data needed for designing programs that focus a priori on scaling and continuous innovation. Managing small-scale fisheries should engage interdisciplinary research to assess and design programs that explicitly integrate a broad range of needs, values, and modes of implementation.

Dr. Stefan Gelcich is a Professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile where he studies human dimensions of marine fisheries management and environmental conservation. He was awarded a 2014 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation. He has led research on developing marine biodiversity offsetting schemes and marine governance. Stefan’s work currently focuses on social-ecological systems, marine conservation, and incentive-based programs focusing on small-scale fisher and coastal communities. He received his BSc from the Universidad Católica del Norte, his MPhil from the University of Cambridge, and his PhD from University of Wales, Bangor.

Alistair Hobday

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Oceans and Atmosphere

Fish, Fishers, and Fisheries: Data Needs for a Changing Climate

hobday_picFish and fishers are already responding to climate-related changes in the ocean, particularly in fast warming ocean regions. However, past experience is becoming less valuable for managers in managing these changes, as conditions are falling outside the historical range. Fortunately, fish, fishers and fisheries can and do adapt to change, provided suitable options exist. A range of methods can inform prioritization, and then development of adaptation options. In Australia, as elsewhere, implementation is a limiting factor and management will need to rapidly adapt to ensure sustainable fish and fisheries into the future.

Dr. Alistair Hobday is a Senior Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere. His current research focuses on investigating the impacts of climate change on marine biodiversity and fishery resources, and developing, prioritising and testing adaptation options to underpin sustainable use and conservation into the future. He co-developed the Ecological Risk Assessment for the Effects of Fisheries (ERAEF) approach to risk-based management for fisheries, which has been applied in more than 15 countries around the world. He is also leading development of seasonal forecasting applications to support decision-making in marine environments.

Natalie Ban

University of Victoria, School of Environmental Studies

Fisheries Management, Indigenous Rights and the Use of Local and Traditional Knowledge

staff portraits at officeFisheries management has not always been successful. When species decline, those who suffer the most are local residents who don’t have the capacity to travel further to catch the fish they need. Indigenous peoples are particularly affected, as fishing and consumption of seafood is a core part of their culture. Along the west coast of British Columbia, Canada, Indigenous peoples are attempting to assert their rights over fisheries management. Multiple information types are used and integrated in, including traditional ecological knowledge, local knowledge, and ecological scientific methods. This presentation will tell the emerging story of some of those attempts.

Dr. Natalie Ban is an Assistant Professor at the University of Victoria’s School of Environmental Studies. Her interdisciplinary research seeks to identify options for management and conservation of marine biodiversity whilst respecting people’s needs. Her research program is motivated by a desire to examine the intricate ties between people and the environment in coastal and marine systems, and implications of human uses for biodiversity conservation and sustainability. Her interdisciplinary research investigates social and ecological themes to understand how social-ecological systems function – and, in turn, how stewardship can be improved for a better future for people and biodiversity.

Tierney Thys

National Geographic Explorer

California Academy of Sciences

Data, Documentaries and Decision-making

While the volume of peer-reviewed studies illustrating the realities of myriad environmental issues grows, a sizable portion of the US public either doesn’t believe the science is real, isn’t able to understand it, doesn’t care about the findings, or simply isn’t convinced humans could play any large part in large issues as climate change and overfishing. Will more data lead the way towards more sustainable behaviors and or can simple well-told stories have a larger persuasive impact? How do these two tactics work? Do they operate on different parts of our brains? Can neuroscience help inform more effective messaging? In this presentation we’ll explore a selection of case studies that showcase different ways of welding scientific information to motivate behavioral changes and examine what works, what doesn’t and where there is room for improvement.

Dr. Tierney Thys is a National Geographic Explorer and Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences. Tierney’s work bridges the worlds of primary research and science communication to promote environmental understanding and stewardship. With degrees from Brown and Duke University, she served as Research Director at Sea Studios Foundation and helped create the multimillion dollar series Strange Days on Planet Earth ( and Shape of Life ( Recent film projects include 5 short films for TEDed on a variety of topics including: plankton; animal evolution; plastic pollution and; sharks. Ongoing projects include: Neurobiophilia ( exploring how nature impacts the brain; the Blue Room–a research project studying the effects of nature imagery on inmates and staff at Snake River Correctional Institute’s Maximum Security Unit in Oregon with Nalini Nadkarni. The Blue Room was named one of Time Magazine’s top inventions of 2014. Tierney also serves as the Daily Explorer in the online game, Animal Jam, boasting 50 million registered players in 120 countries and 5 languages. Last but not least Tierney is an ocean sunfish world expert, runs, Adopt A Sunfish and serves on the board for the TED Braintrust, Revive & Restore Foundation and Wildscreen Trust. She received her undergraduate Biology degree from Brown University and doctorate from Duke University in Zoology.

Christy Pattengill-Semmens

Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF)

Deploying the Citizen Army: Building Powerful, Purposeful Datastreams

semmens_picCitizen scientists – those who voluntarily contribute their time, effort, and resources toward scientific research – have the potential to provide a rich vein of data to inform resource management. Leveraging this citizenry requires data collection methods that resemble recreation, infrastructure to manage the data and volunteer base, and a model to maintain the long-term interest and funding required to sustain a perpetual monitoring program. I will discuss approaches for developing successful citizen science programs, and the perils and pitfalls likely to be encountered along the way. I will also discuss current and future avenues for leveraging citizen science data in research and management. Throughout my talk, I will rely on experiences and examples from the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) Volunteer Fish Survey Project, one of the largest and longest-running ocean citizen science programs in the world.

Dr. Christy Pattengill-Semmens is the Director of Science for Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF; Christy regularly advises on developing scalable citizen science programs, and has worked with the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council citizen science framework, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Government of the Azores, among others. She has spent over 2 decades facilitating the incorporation of citizen science data into resource management and the scientific literature, having authored or co-authored 18 peer-reviewed papers on the subject. She received her undergraduate Biology degree from University of Southern California and doctorate from Texas A&M University in Zoology. For the last five years she has maintained a visiting scientist position with the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

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