Science and Overfishing: Interaction of economic costs, politics, and data quality issues.
An article by Kate King in April 7, 2017 Wall Street Journal reports that an interstate commission has mandated a cut in summer flounder (also known as fluke) by 30 percent but this proposal has been protested by fishermen and the State of New Jersey which has asked the Trump Admin. to overrule the proposal. The regional Administrator of NOAA says that “summer flounder are being fished at a rate that is too high for the population to sustain itself.” The article cites the concurrence of an experienced fishermen that the “fish are stressed.” But New Jersey officials state their “surveys show the summer flounder stock has remained stable over the past 25 years” and they claim that “the federal government’s methodology for collecting data is outdated” and have asked for a stay of the quota until “new data is collected.” This case illustrates again why scientific disputes have become central to wildlife politics as I discuss in Ch.2 of my Wildlife Politics book. Most people agree that science should guide policy on wildlife but that does not stop disputes because people disagree over scientific findings due to a variety of issues including quality of data as is the case here. With respect to fish, often the industry disputes the science claiming that their fishing experience shows that there are much more fish than the government is finding. In short, agreement that science should guide wildlife policy does not by any means bring an end to disputes over the policies. This case also illustrates how climate change is a looming issue behind so many threats to species--some scientists speculate that climate change has pushed the fish further north. See the article: King, Kate. (2017). New Jersey Fishermen Reel Over a New Quota on Fluke. Wall Street Journal, April 7. Accessed 4/7/17 from https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-jersey-fishermen-reel-over-a-new-quota-1491483600
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