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Sea Around Us project newsletter, issue 1, November/December 1999 Power, Melanie; Sea Around Us Project Nov 30, 1999

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Sea Around UsThe Sea Around Us Project NewsletterIssue 1 – November/December 1999							Daniel Pauly wants tosave the world – orat least the oceans.Pauly, Tony Pitcher andtheir UBC Fisheries Centreteam were recentlygranted $3 millionCanadian (about $2 millionUS) by the Pew CharitableTrusts to reel in the factson fishing’s ecologicalimpacts.That Pew, a powerful USfoundation and a leader inmarine conservation, hastaken this gamble on theUBC Fisheries Centre is abig deal. When otherscientists reviewed Pauly’sproposal to try to unlockthe besieged state ofworld fisheries, most said itcouldn’t be done.Nevertheless Pew hasstepped forward tosupport the first phase of“The Sea Around Us”project, and as Pauly is thefirst to acknowledge, “myhead is on the block.”The reason Pew is bettingon Pauly is because,despite what sceptics maythink, he has a track recordof taking on gargantuantasks against enormousresistance. Pauly is famousfor his ability to look atmountains of data and tosee things that no-one elsehas seen before. Feeding atthe very top of the foodchain of scientists, Paulydevours and synthesizesother people’s research.Pauly’s own life hasconvinced him of thevalidity of fighting againstthe odds. A war baby, theson of a black man fromArkansas and a Frenchmother, Pauly grew uppoor.“Statistically I wasdoomed,” he grins. Hewould have never made itto university but for ascholarship from a churchin Germany where he hadworked helping thementally handicapped. Butonce he started, he tookoff, surging throughundergrad and mastersdegrees in four years. Thenconcerned about issues ofpoverty and overfishing, hestarted working in tropicalcountries, inventing simplemethods for stockassessments socommunities couldmanage their ownfisheries.In an interview in his tinyoffice in the UBC FisheriesCentre, he whirls from deskto computer in a pair offish slippers. Prone tojumping up and illustratinghis points on a white boardby his desk, he answers theincessantly ringing phoneswitching from French toGerman to Spanish as hetalks to colleagues fromaround the world.Pauly seems not the leastbit daunted by theenormity of the task he hastaken on. “Right now all wedo is say, ‘save the sea,’” hesays. “Well big deal. Howdo you go about it? Youneed the specifics.” Still,he’s the first to admit, “Myimagination has alwaysbeen ahead of my ability toimplement thingsrigorously. I’m not anumber cruncher.” Hisapproach is to develop ateam and to create anenvironment in which thepeople and project canthrive and then he workswith them to fit the piecestogether. “Its not so muchthat the track recordconvinces other people, it’sthe track record thatContinued on page 2 – Pauly		The Sea Around Us project newsletter ispublished by the  Fisheries Centre at the Uni-versity of British Columbia. Included withthe Fisheries Centre’s newsletter FishBytes,sixissues of this newsletter are published an-nually. Subscriptions are free of charge.Our mailing address is: UBC Fisheries Cen-tre, 2204 Main Mall, Vancouver, British Co-lumbia, Canada, V6T 1Z4. Our fax number is(604) 822-8934, and our email address isSeaNotes@fisheries.com. All queries (includ-ing reprint requests), subscription requests,and address changes should be addressed toMelanie Power, Sea Around Us NewsletterEditor.The Sea Around Us website may be foundat www.seaaroundus.org, and contains up-to-date information on the project.convinces yourself you can doit. Otherwise you wouldn’tdare... Yes, its huge. But it’s likethe pyramids, it’s one rock attime.”In 1998 Pauly sent shock wavesaround the world when he anda team of colleagues publishedproof in the prestigious journalScience, that globally, we are“fishing down the food web”.Taking 45 years worth of theUnited Nations annual globalcatch statistics they showedwhere overfishing is taking us.Commercial fisheries exhaustbig fish-eating fish first, thenmove to lower plankton-eatingfish and invertebrates. Thisprevents the top fish from everrecovering because we begincompeting with them for theirfood. So having systematicallywiped out the large fish at thetop of the food web, “we’re noweating bait,” says Pauly, “andwe’re headed for jellyfish”.Serial depletion of species isgrinding marine ecosystemstowards collapse. Pauly iscritical of the government’snew and highly subsidized‘diversification programs’, aeuphemism for trying to findsomething else once you’veexhausted the previous fishery.Many people includingfisheries scientists,managers andpoliticians are in denial aboutwhat’s happening in theoceans, and so Pauly, Pitcherand their UBC team, inpartnership with a globalnetwork of scientists want toshow what’s going on. Thisthree million dollar grant overtwo years is only the seedmoney for what – if theysucceed – will be an on-goinginitiative to provide theresearch needed to transformfisheries policies andmanagement practices aroundthe world. The first step is tostudy the North Atlantic fishery(eastern Canada, the US andEurope) which, explains Pauly,“is the biggest challengebecause that is where fisheriesscience emerged. Everything ismore stuck there. If we canconvince the North Atlanticworld our vision is legitimate,then we will have taken a bigstep because in other parts ofthe world there will be lessresistance.”The team’s analysis of all thebiological, economic, and socialdata related to fisheries overthe past 50 years will show howmuch the oceans have changedand provide an irrefutable casefor the profound changesnecessary to current fisheriespolicies and practices. Becauseas Tony Pitcher says, “When itcomes to oceans, sustainabilityis the wrong goal because youare only sustaining the presentmisery.”These scientists believe wemust allow the oceans torebuild to their historic levels ofproductivity. Pauly reckons onlyone-tenth or less of the fish inthe oceans still survive, but thegood news is, the abundantpast could also be our future.The energy to rebuild the webof life is still being regenerated.On land, once you take awaythe habitat and build on it, thewildlife are often gone forever.But in the oceans the habitat isstill there, it’s just that the fisharen’t. Nature can and willreplenish the wealth of the seas– if we give her half a chance.Now some of thebrightest and biggestthinkers on the globalscene are converging at theUBC Fisheries Centre to pull inthe pieces. Besides Pauly andPitcher, the team includes VillyChristensen and Carl Walters,who along with Pauly havedesigned a computer programcalled Ecopath which roughlysimulates how marineecosystems work. Like anaccounting system that usesenergy as its currency, Ecopathtells you how much fish youcan extract from an ecosystembased on its productivity whiletaking into account theinteractions between variousanimals within the system. Itserves as a test to see if thepieces add up.Reg Watson is the team’s chiefdetective uncoveringunaccounted fisheries catchessuch as bycatch and thesubsistence fisheries. In manycountries, the catch of boatsbelow 10 metres is notregistered. Nor are sportsfisheries usually included. “Nowhere I expect a stunningeffect—we will surprise peoplewith these numbers,” saysSo havingsystematicallywiped outthe largefish at thetop of thefood web,“we’re noweating bait,”says Pauly,“and we’reheaded forjellyfish”.Pauly – Continued from page 1Continued on page 4 – Pauly 									 !	Welcome to the first issue of the new Sea Around Usproject newsletter! As many FishBytes readersalready know, this new Fisheries Centrepartnership with Philadelphia’s Pew Charitable Trusts wasformally announced in July of this year. (See FishBytes vol. 5(4), July/August 1999.) Since then, the always bustlingFisheries Centre has been caught up in an even greaterflurry of excitement. Renovations on our home, Hut B-8, havebeen planned, and renovations in one of the neighbouringhuts have begun. Blueprints decorate the Fisheries Centre’smain office, and workers sporting hardhats have beenspotted in the hallways. Even the exterior of B-8 is gettingpainted – although the onset of Vancouver’s rainy seasonhas temporarily halted that effort.All of this activity so as to accommodate the manyresearchers flocking to the Fisheries Centre to become partof this project. In fact, people are being recruited from allcorners of the globe to serve in various capacities on theproject.And of course, to broadcast the efforts of the project teamand developments within the project, we are launching thisbrand-new newsletter. Included with FishBytes, this serialwill be distributed every second month for a total of sixissues per year. Unlike FishBytes, with its broad mandate andfocus, this particular newsletter will centre entirely on thisproject and all that it entails.In this first issue, we highlight a modified version of anarticle which first appeared in the Vancouver Sun, written byfreelance journalist Nancy Baron. Through this particulararticle, you will be introduced to some of the members ofthe project team and given an overview of the Sea AroundUs project. Just as this article focuses on Daniel, future issuesof this newsletter will highlight other team members andthe work that they are doing.But not wanting to leave anyone out, in this issue we haveincluded a reference list of who’s who in the team. Moreinformation on the Sea Around Us project and team can befound on the projects website, www.seaaroundus.org. Besure to check the site regularly for up-to-date information.So, welcome. And thank-you for joining us as we work tosave the world’s fisheries!				Staff at the Fisheries Centre:Project Leader – Daniel PaulyChair, Project SteeringCommittee – Tony Pitcher(Principal) Research Associate –Villy Christensen(Senior) Research Associate –Reg WatsonProject Co-ordinator – NigelHagganPost-Doctoral Fellows – SylvieGuénette, Lore Ruttan, DirkZellerResearch Associate – RashidSumailaWebmaster – Felimon(Nonong) GayaniloNewsletter Editor – MelaniePowerGraduate Student Assistants –Eny Buchary, Kristin Kaschner,Amy PoonAdministrative Assistant –Maureen WhiteCollaborators from outside ofthe Fisheries Centre:Jackie AlderNancy BaronAlida BundyRattana (Ying) ChuenpagdeePaul FanningRainer FroesePaul HartSteve MackinsonJean-Jacques MaguireGordon MunroLeif NøttestadBill ParkerHreidar Valtysson"		generating evidence fordifferent audiences is part ofwhat this project is meant toovercome.By the end of the first two yearsPauly hopes to have succeededin convincing colleagues,managers and policy makersthat there is legitimacy in theapproach of looking at the pastto set fisheries goals for thefuture. “What we want to do iscalculate the benefits that go tothe different players andidentify for the fisheries of theNorth Atlantic – not pie in thesky, but practical solutions thatare good for the fish, good forthe ecosystem and good forthe fishery itself.”For example, the scientists areusing horsepower as the unit ofefficiency to contrast the costsand benefits of differentfisheries. Small scale localfishers consume less fuel oil,less fish, destroy less habitat,reduce bycatch and generatemore benefits to more people,both locally and afar. Thealternative – the industrialfishers – travel from place toplace, mess up the fishingground through destructivepractices like trawling, throwaway the bycatch, and employseasonal workers who have noconnection to the places wherethey fish. Industrial fishers tendto be heavily subsidized andignore environmentaldestruction. “It’s an old habit, sowe tolerate it,” explains Pauly,“Similar to perhaps cigarettes.But it’s crazy.”Pauly’s vision is to largelyphase out the large scalefisheries and to freeze thesmall scale fisheries to alleviateenough pressure that thestocks could rebuild. “Look atthe cod. The small scalefisheries were catching 200,000tons a year, while for 10 yearsthe industrial fisheries got upto 800,000. How many years doyou need of total depletion toundo that so-called gain?” Upto 1998 the Atlantic codcollapse has cost at least $4.5billion and untoldwretchedness. “You could havecontinued with just the smallscale fisheries and overall thegains would have been muchbigger,” says Pauly. “So thehard-nosed numbers, therealism is not with the subsidydriven large scale fishery thatleads to overfishing. Phasingout the heavily subsidisedindustrial fisheries will costmoney, but it will ultimatelyprovide more jobs and fish. Sogo do it. The fisheries worldshould be able to seethemselves that they are doingthings that are absurd. And soholding up a mirror to this andshowing how that can beperceived by looking at it froma different angle is going to behelpful, I hope.”Pauly firmly believes their workwill show how our self-madefisheries crisis can be solved.The much larger challenge willbe dealing with the politics.This article is adapted from an articlewhich first appeared in the VancouverSun, November 5, 1999, page A29. It isthe first in a series that will profilescientists and their research in the SeaAround Us project.Nancy Baron is a Vancouver biologistand freelance journalist with an interestin biodiversity issues. Previously, Nancyauthored “The Straits of Georgia”,  anarticle about the Fisheries Centre’s pilot“Back to the Future” project, whichappeared in Vancouver’s GeorgiaStraight, v. 32 (1602), September 3-10,1998.Pauly.Tony Pitcher andDave Preikshotand havedesignedRAPFISH, amultidisciplinaryrapid evaluationmethod for thestatus offisheries andRashid Sumaila,an economist, has designed anew economic methodologythat will allow people toevaluate the ecological,economic, social and culturalbenefits of rebuilding. Pauly’srole is to put it all together andto bring forward the results andrecommendations.These multiple layers of datawill be analysed and crossvalidated to show howoverfishing can be controlledand the damage reversed. Theteam will post all their data andanalysis on the project’swebsite so that the path totheir conclusions is clear.One of the major problems infisheries management is the riftbetween fisheries scientistsand conservation biologists.Fisheries scientists tend to bealigned with government andindustry. Conservationbiologists tend to sit “outsidethe tent” with theenvironmental NGOs. Pauly istrying to create a new systemfor data collection to integratethe two groups and encouragetheir collaboration on solvingproblems. “The two groups maybe working on similar thingsbut they don’t talk to eachother, they don’t read eachother’s work and worst of all,they don’t respect each other,”explains Pauly. The problem oftwo groups of scientistsBy the endof the firsttwo yearsPauly hopesto havesucceededinconvincingcolleagues,managersand policymakers thatthere islegitimacyin theapproach oflooking atthe past toset fisheriesgoals for thefuture.Daniel Pauly, reflecting on thestate of the world’s fisheries.Continued from page 2 – Pauly


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