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Sea Around Us project newsletter, issue 47, May/June 2008 Forrest, Robyn; Sea Around Us Project May 31, 2008

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SSSS Seeee e aaaa a     AAAA Arrrr r ouououou ounnnn ndddd d     UUUU Ussss sThe Sea Around Us Project NewsletterIssue 47 – May/June 2008On May 8and 9,2008, I hadthe opportunity toattend a workshopin Dakar, Senegal,organized by WWFand the LenfestOcean Program(LOP), which wasdevoted to theinteractionbetween the greatwhale and fisheriesof northwest Africa.The workshop wastitled Whales & FishInteractions: Are GreatWhale a Threat to Fisheries?and was attended byofficials from the fisheryministries of half a dozencountries in the region,from Mauritania to Guinea,WWF and LOP staff, a fewscientists, and, mostinterestingly, byparliamentarians from thehost country.The great whales in thatpart of the world come toreproduce and there are nolive observations orstomach content analysesindicating that theyactively feed (even fromseveral decades ago, whenthere was some occasionalwhaling off NorthwestAfrica).  This is in line withwhat is known about greatwhales elsewhere in thetropics. Baleen whales,when they feed, relymostly on krill and othersmall plankton organisms,and thus they would not,in any case, interact withthe demersal and tunafisheriesprevailing offnorthwestAfrica. So whya workshop onthis outlandishtopic? Why notFisheries vs theMartians?The reason forthe workshopwas not onlythe fact thatthe countriesin theNorthwest African regionincreasingly vote with Japanat meetings of theInternational WhalingCommission. Rather, it wasthe fact that their delegatesjustify such votes on thegrounds that their fisheriesare negatively impacted bybaleen whales. Indeed, theyargue that the wholeecosystem is “out ofbalance”:  a balance that canbe re-established only bykilling whales - which fliesWorrying about whalesinstead of managingfisheries: a personalaccount of a meetingin Senegalby Daniel PaulyContinued on page 2 - DakarTwo whales off Nosy Be island, Madagascar, July, 2007.Copyright: IRD, M.-N. FavierPage 2Sea Around Us – May/June 2008The Sea Around Us project is a Fisheries Centre partner-ship with the Pew Charitable Trusts of Philadelphia,USA. The Trusts support nonprofit activities in the areas ofculture, education, the environment, health and human serv-ices, public policy and religion. Based in Philadelphia, the Trustsmake strategic investments to help organisations and citizensdevelop practical solutions to difficult problems. In 2000, withapproximately $4.8 billion in assets, the Trusts committed over$235 million to 302 nonprofit organisations. ISSN 1713-5214   Sea Around Us (ONLINE)The Sea Around Us project newsletter ispublished by the  Fisheries Centre at theUniversity of British Columbia. Included withthe Fisheries Centre’s newsletter FishBytes,sixissues of this newsletter are publishedannually. Subscriptions arefree of charge.Our mailingaddress is: SeaAround Us project,Aquatic EcosystemsResearch Laboratory,2202 Main Mall,Vancouver, BritishColumbia, Canada, V6T1Z4. Our fax number is (604)822-8934, and our email address isSeaNotes@fisheries.ubc.ca. All queries(including reprint requests), subscriptionrequests, and address changes should beaddressed to Robyn Forrest, Sea Around UsNewsletter Editor.The Sea Around Us website may be foundat www.seaaroundus.org and contains up-to-date information on the project.in the face of everything knownabout the fisheries of the region,whale biology and commonsense. And it does get betterwhen it is tailored for localconsumption.This was a very awkwardsituation for me to be in. I haveworked for years on WestAfrican fisheries, with colleaguesfrom the region, and havesupported their countries’interest vis-à-vis peoplejustifying the activity of EU-based or other distant-waterfleets operating in West Africaon the basis of questionable‘agreements’, which the coastalcountries were blackmailed intosigning, and through which theirfisheries resources were madeavailable at less than bargainprices (see Kaczynski andFluharty 2001).  These distantwater fleets, jointly with thelocal, totally unmanaged andovergrown ‘small-scale’ fisherieshave reduced the fisheriesresources off West Africa toshadows of their former selves,which makes management ofthese fisheries, and especially areduction of their aggregateeffort, a priority.This, in fact, was the main resultof the EU-funded internationalresearch project called ‘Systèmed’Information et d’Analyse desPêches de l’Afrique du Nord-Ouest’ (SIAP). This projectprovided for West Africanscientists and others tocollaborate on the analysis ofover half a century’s worth ofcatch time series and other data,with the results presented at aninternational conference held inDakar in 2002 (see Chavance etal. 2004), amidst a flurry ofarticles in the local press.This was not the first time,obviously, that such findingswere reported. In fact, the SIAPproject was largely based ongathering and analyzing the vastliterature, spanning severaldecades, which tracked thedeclining trajectory of thefisheries off West Africa. Thisliterature, and the syntheseswhich resulted from the SIAPproject, are available to informlocal policy-makers interested inreforming fisheries policies.The most crucial reform wouldbe moving from a situationwhere West African waters areseen as larder from which anendless supply of fish can beextracted to supply foreignmarkets (Alder and Sumaila2004) to one where WestAfrican countries could build onexport and processing of fish tostrengthen their own economy,and benefit their own people.The government positions that Iheard at this meeting suggest,however, that such reforms arenot being contemplated. Instead,the top fisheries officials of WestAfrican countries appear to havethrown in their lot with theirJapanese advisors, and theirwhales-eat-our-fish mantra, forreasons that are either obscure,or too obvious to mention.The excellent scientificpresentations at the workshop,by Drs Kristin Kaschner and LyneMorissette, dealt with theidentity of the great whales offWest Africa, their behaviour, theirincorporation in (Ecopath)trophic models, and the resultsof some preliminary simulations(with Ecosim), which suggestedthat killing all the whales offWest Africa – even if it could bedone - would have little effecton the fishery resources andcatches.At every step, their findings andassumptions were questionedby one or the other governmentofficials, using concepts (such as‘ecosystem balance’) andDakar - Continued from page 1Continued on page 3 - Dakar... the topfisheriesofficials ofWestAfricancountriesappear tohavethrown intheir lotwith theirJapaneseadvisors,and theirwhales-eat-our-fish mantraPage 3 Sea Around Us – May/June 2008arguments (‘you have notstudied the stomachs ofnewborn calves off West Africa,so you don’t really know thatthey don’t eat our fish’)originating in the Tokyo-basedCetacean Research Institute.  Theonly evidence they presentedwas evidence of bad faith, thewhole line of arguments beingbased on absent data. Thesepurely negative arguments,indeed, are of the same kind asthose that advocates of the so-called ‘intelligent design’ use tocriticize evolution by naturalselection, but who (for goodreasons) never offer a positiveargument for the case theyattempt to make.There was a ray of hope, though.The participating Senegaleseparliamentarians, both from theSenate and the Lower House,were united in their questioningof their government’s position,and in mentioning their surpriseat a government policy that hasnever been publicly debatedand which is actually alien to theculture of their constituents.Indeed, this very point wasemphasized by aparliamentarian and mayor of afishing town, who mentionedthat her constituents, far fromconsidering whales to be theircompetitors, consider them theirguardians and want to see themprotected. This view was echoedby participants from other WestAfrican countries.Still, I left Dakar with a heavyheart.  To see that such a greatcountry as Japan has twisted itsentire development aid, andcorrupted fisheries officials of anentire region for the sake of itstiny, heavily-subsidized whalingindustry is sad. It will probably beDakar - Continued from page 2 years before the countriestargeted by these delusionalpolicies will see through thesemanoeuvers, and freethemselves from the officialswho mislead them.  Also, thereal potential of whale eco-tourism is not being explored,although it has become a serioussource of foreign currency invarious other countries, e.g., inArgentina.Foremost, however, thecountries successfully targetedby the whales-eat-our fishdelusion fail to concentrate onthe real problem they have. Thiswas brutally recalled by thesenior parliamentarian at theworkshop, who put the issue ofthe mismanagement of fisheriesin the general context of foodproduction in Senegal. Herecalled that only a few yearsClockwise from top left:1. Participants at the workshop Whales & Fish Interactions: AreGreat Whale a Threat to Fisheries? in Dakar, Senegal. Seewww.lenfestocean.org/Dakar_Participants_List_ENG.pdf for afull list of participants.2. His Excellency Mr Souleymane Ndéné Ndiaye, State Ministerof Maritime Economy, Fisheries and Aquaculture of Senegal,gives a press conference after the first day of the workshop.3. (L-R) Lyne Morissette (Arizona State University) with a localchild; Margaret Bowman (Director, Lenfest Ocean Program);Rémi Parmentier (Workshop Joint Secretariat, Lenfest-WWFWAMER); and Mamadou Diallo (Program Manager, WWF-WAMER in Senegal) in front of the WWF office in Dakar.Photos:  Lyne MorissetteContinued on page 4 - Dakar... thecountriessuccessfullytargeted bythe whales-eat-our fishdelusion failtoconcentrateon the realproblemthey havePage 4Sea Around Us – May/June 2008WelcomeThis summer,  the Sea Around Us project employed five new research assistants to work withDirk Zeller on various catch reconstruction projects.  Please join us in making them all feel verywelcome.Former student Peter Rossing has joined us to work on an exciting new project. The Sea Around Usproject recently entered a partnership with the Baltic Sea 2020 Foundation to reconstruct fisheriescatch time series from 1950 to the present for all the Baltic countries (see Sea Around Us Issues 28,35, 39 and 45 for descriptions of similar projects for other regions). This work will help provide abetter baseline for analyzing long-term trends in fishing and management by providing data thatreflect a more accurate picture of historical catches in the Baltic Sea.In addition to this work, Peter recently travelled  to Japan to collect fifty years’ worth ofJapanese import and export trade statistics, generously provided by the Japanese Ministry ofFinance. This was to assist Rashid Sumaila and Wilf Swartz, who are engaged in a project to evaluateeconomic impacts of the international fish trade globally.  As Tokyo remains one of the few places inthe world where communicating in English is virtually impossible, Peter would not have been ableto complete this work without the help of his wife Miki, who acted as a translator.  It was probably anunusual sight for the Japanese Ministry staff to see Peter and Miki travelling the Ministry’s corridorswith their two young children in tow!Kenneth Buck has joined us as a summer research assistant, working with Shawn Booth and DirkZeller on catch reconstructions for the Pacific islands. He recently completed his BSc at theUniversity of Calgary and plans to begin a computer science degree in the fall.Rhona Govender is reconstructing Israeli fisheries catches for the Red Sea and Mediterranean andJordanian catches from the Red Sea. She has just finished her undergraduate degree at UBC inAnimal Biology, and will begin an MSc with Daniel Pauly in 2009.Lo Persson is a student from Sweden and is working this summer with Peter Rossing on the BalticSea catch reconstruction project, with particular focus on Swedish fisheries. She will continue thiswork when she returns to Sweden in the fall and hopes to use the project as the basis of her Master’sthesis.Liane Veitch is working with Shawn Booth and Dirk Zeller on catch reconstructions for the Pacificislands and French territories (French Guiana, Guadelupe and Martinique).  She hopes to begin anMSc in conservation science in the UK next fall.Dakar - Continued from page 3ago, his country allowed its ownrice production to be destroyedby cheap imports from Taiwan,only to be hit a few years laterwith massive price increases,which have put the now-imported staple out of the reachof most of his compatriots.  Andhe warned that the whales-eat-our-fish issue could have similareffect, by diverting attentionfrom the task of puttingSenegalese fisheries on asustainable track.ReferencesAlder, J. and Sumaila, U.R.2004. Western Africa: a fishbasket of Europe past andpresent. Journal ofEnvironment andDevelopment 13(2),156-178.Chavance, P., M. Ba, D. Gascuel,M. Vakily and D. Pauly(Editors). 2004. Pêcheriesmaritimes, écosystèmes etsociétés en Afrique del’Ouest : un demi-siècle dechangement. Actes dusymposium international,Dakar - Sénégal, 24-28 juin2002. Office des PublicationsOfficielles desCommunautés Européennes,XXXVI, collection des rapportsde recherche halieutiqueACP-UE 15, 532 p. +Appendices.Kaczynski, V. M. and Fluharty, D. L.2002. European policies inWest Africa: who benefitsfrom fisheriesagreements? MarinePolicy 26, 75-93.... thewhales-eat-our-fishissue coulddivertattentionfrom the taskof puttingSenegalesefisheries on asustainabletrack

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