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QRC 50th Anniversary Speaker Series | Jake Rice
WhenTuesday, Oct 22, 2019, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Campus locationFishery Sciences (FSH)
Campus room107
Event typesLectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsQuaternary Research Center,… Erin Williamson,, 206-543-6755

Talk Title: Sustainable Use, Biodiversity and Climate Change – What is Success when the Goalposts Keep Moving?

Keeping uses of natural resources sustainable has not been simple, especially in the ocean where governance has always been more complex than on land.  United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea in 1978 delineated responsibilities for how the ocean is to be used, whereas the Rio Conventions in 1992, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, focused on responsibilities for how the planet, including the ocean, should be conserved.  With different agreements and different perspectives, the relevant interests of government agencies, industries, citizen groups etc., naturally gravitated to different pathways for policy, science and management.  Sectoral users aligned with United Nations agencies developing frameworks maximizing their sustainable uses of the ocean, whereas conservation biologists gravitated to agencies developing frameworks sufficiently precautionary to ensure biodiversity did not suffer “serious or irreversible harm.”

Despite the governance challenges, some progress has been made on both building a stronger Blue Economy and increasing protection to biodiversity, on local and sometimes even regional scales.   Most attribute the progress in large part to more rule-based decision-making, using best knowledge available.  Importantly, all approaches have assumed marine ecosystems would be inherently stable – in early decades at a static equilibrium and more recently varying dynamically without trend around long-term equilibrium conditions - were it not for the perturbations of human use.   Such assumptions are expressed on the benchmarks in decision-rules from both the usage perspective (e.g., Bmsy, Fmsy and the Target and Limit Reference Points), and the conservation biology perspective (IUCN criteria for Red Listing species, properties of appropriate recovery targets, etc.).

However, currently all perspectives are dealing with climate change as an increasingly problematic additional challenge, and progress is being slowed or eroded.  Well-managed fisheries are seeing stock productivity decline; draconian rebuilding plans for endangered marine species are not getting the populations off the Red List.   As a consequence there is a rebuilding tension between competing visions of biodiversity.  Is it just finger pointing with efforts of each perspective failing because the “other side” is not working hard enough to accommodate the full suite of objectives, or is there more to it.  We cannot apportion institutional responsibility for such failures until we provide outcomes that are ecologically and evolutionarily realistic and feasible. 

Only a truly long term time perspective can help us obtain a consensus on "What are we managing our marine resources for?" and how to do it.   An interesting new perspective emerged in a Canada-US meeting trying to get momentum back into the restoration of a “Healthy Great Lakes Ecosystem”, where we realized that the ecological communities characteristic of the 20th Century Great Lakes have become poorly adapted to the environmental conditions of the 20-teens, and will become increasingly ill adapted to future decades, whatever is done about managing human pressures, including GHG emissions.  The conclusion of the talk will explore strategies to derive management goals that could result in communities actually well-adapted to the marine environmental conditions that they will encounter – from the scales of population life histories to community composition.  I’ll summarize the potential benefits of a re-definition of our overall objectives, some elements of what is needed to undertake such a transition of goals, and why it may be necessary to have the hubris to try.

Dr. Jake Rice is Chief Scientist – Emeritus with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.   As Chief Scientist (2006-2016) he represented Canada at many international policy meetings (United Nations. Convention on Biological Diversity, FAO etc) as an expert advisor, and participated in Intergovernmental science initiatives including the IPCC 5th Assessment Report and Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere, and co-chaired the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Regional Assessment for the Americas; roles he continues in his emeritus stsatus. From 1997-2006 he served as Director of Peer Review and Science Advice, leading the single window for scientific advice on all aspect of the mandate of DFO (the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat..  Previously Dr. Rice held various positions in DFO regional laboratories and academic posts at universities in Canada, the US, and Europe.

Dr. Rice received his B. Sc. in Conservation  from Cornell University in 1970, and his doctorate in Ornithology from the University of Toronto in 1975. His nt research has centered on theoretical, bio-statistical, and modelling approaches to evaluating ecosystem effects of human activities in the sea, making an ecosystem approach to integrated management operational, and on making scientific advisory processes inclusive of more types of knowledge. Dr. Rice has chaired a number of international science workings, including serving as Chair of the Consultative Committee and Chief Scientist of ICES, and as a member of the NOAA Science Advisory Board. He has over 140 publications in the scientific literature, as well as authoring a large number of working group reports and chapters on guidelines and practices for publications of DFO and international agencies.

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