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WFC - Calls for Science, Industry to Work Together

Sustainability Education & academia

GLOBAL - A key message to come out of the World Fisheries Conference is a call for stronger cooperation between science and the fishing industry, reports Charlotte Johnston, TheFishSite editor.

Science vs Practice: Conflicting Results

On Tuesday, delegates heard how scientific findings are showing that many fish stocks are depleting. But at a Common Fishery Policy (CFP) debate in the afternoon, one delegate asked how much confidence can we put in these scientific reports.

A representative from the Scottish Fishermen's Federation said that science and various studies are telling them that stocks are depleting, which then affects their quota. "But in reality, on the sea, we are seeing the opposite for many stocks. There are plentiful fish stocks in the ocean, but science is telling us we're not allowed to fish them.

"How can we, the fishermen, have confidence in science, when the results fluctuate so much and are generally a year behind the reality," he said.

Niels Wichmann, from the Danish Fishermen Association and Chair of the North Sea Regional Advisory Council said that multi-stakeholder groups such as the Regional Advisory Council's were playing a part in pulling science and practice together. He said that it is hoped, through the CFP reforms, that more emphasis will be put on Regional Advisory Councils, giving the industry a greater say in how fisheries are managed.

Involving Fishermen in Data Collection

Poul Degnbol, Head of Advisory Programmes for the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), said that one of the huge problems faced is collecting and obtaining data.

He went on to say that there is no obligation for EU Member States to collect scientific data, and if they did only 50 per cent funding for surveys is currently available.

"Data is different across the EU and often insufficient and inaccurate. There is a huge need for more and better data," he said. "It is a financial issue in the end, there is no funding available."

It was generally agreed that the industry and the fishermen, need to more involved in data collection and it was suggested that perhaps financial incentives could be offered.

The debate did not reach a comprehensive answer to the question of how we can encourage science and industry to work closer together, however there does seem to be willingness from both sides of the table.