The Role of Data in Conserving West Coast Marine Ecosystems
Geoff Shester, California Campaign Director, Oceana
Under U.S. fisheries and environmental laws, managers must minimize and avoid bycatch, minimize the adverse effects of fishing on essential fish habitats, prevent overfishing and protect threatened and endangered species, among others, while managing for sustainable fisheries. Decisions must be based on best available science, even when data are limited and ecosystem impacts uncertain. In light of these challenges, Oceana uses science, law, and the public to advocate for policies that protect marine ecosystems and maintain vibrant fisheries. Drawing from recent experiences and events surrounding the California anchovy fishery and groundfish essential fish habitat, I will discuss the role of fishery and environmental data in conservation advocacy, and describe practical applications of the precautionary approach in fishery management, even when data are limited.
Dr. Geoff Shester is Oceana’s California Campaign Director based in Monterey, where he leads undersea expeditions and advocates in state and federal U.S. West Coast management venues for protecting seafloor habitat, reducing fisheries bycatch, and implementing ecosystem-based management of forage fish. He previously worked for the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council and served as Senior Science Manager for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program. While at Stanford University’s Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources out of Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey, he studied fleet dynamics and ecological impacts of small-scale fisheries in Baja California Sur, Mexico.