Conference recognises importance of fishermen’s data

At the recent Fishery Dependent Information 2014 conference held in Rome, over 150 fisheries scientists, managers, policy-makers and fishers gathered to share and discuss ways to generate better information about the world’s fisheries and the fish stocks on which they depend.

“Fish stocks are invisible to normal means of observation because they live underwater and are often highly mobile," said Bill Karp, director of the NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center in the United States.

"In recent decades, many of the world’s fish stocks have been heavily fished or even overfished. Sustainable management of these stocks in an ecosystem context requires new and different types of information which often necessitates effective collaboration among government, academic and fishing sectors. Trust and respect among managers, policy-makers and fishers is essential to this process."

Using data and information from fishers while fishing and through collaborative research is considered to be a relatively untapped source of information about the world’s fish stocks and the consequences of human interactions with them.

“The Rome meeting highlighted innovative approaches for capturing and using such information and emphasised the importance of involving fishers and other stakeholders in the collection of the data and in fisheries management and related policy making,” said FAO senior fisheries officer, Gabriella Bianchi.

Several important findings were noted during the closing session, including:

  • Changes in public policy requiring more comprehensive documentation of fishing activities and their impacts on ecosystems are powerful drivers of change. Effective solutions for implementing these policies require multiparty collaboration end empowerment of fishers.
  • Establishment of an environment for collaboration and participatory science and management that are built on a foundation of trust and respect is essential to successful fisheries management.
  • Social scientists should be encouraged to participate in these processes because they play an essential role in improving our understanding of interactions between humans and marine ecosystems, bring scientific method to understanding resources management economics, and bring professional insight that is useful in breaking down communications barriers.

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