Overfishing of Canadian Atlantic Cod: Correlates of Population Recovery and Integrity in the Communication of Science

CEES Extra Seminar by Jeffrey Hutchings



The overfishing-induced decline of Canadian Atlantic cod in the early 1990s – perhaps the highest numerical loss of a Canadian vertebrate (1.5-2.5 billion reproductive individuals) – is among the greatest of fisheries collapses and is one from which the species has yet to recover. Despite massive reductions in fishing mortality, almost all stocks remain well below their conservation reference points. At least one is facing imminent decline because of unsustainably high natural mortality. Depending on the stock, the lack of recovery can be attributed to ongoing fishing (targeted, bycatch), changes to life history (reductions in age and size at maturity, truncations in age and size structure), and altered inter-specific interactions caused primarily by past fishing pressure. Emergent and demographic Allee effects render questionable the presumption that the recovery of heavily depleted populations can be reliably forecasted by population dynamical behaviour during decline.

This crisis of biodiversity and resource management has raised questions pertaining to the communication of science to society. Implicitly or explicitly, government bureaucracies are known to inhibit the communication of research by government scientists. But, if one inhibits the communication of science, one is inhibiting science itself. Is this a model that best serves society? How should science be communicated to the public? By whom and to whom? In this regard, what is the responsibility of university scientists? These are questions that will be explored in the latter half of the presentation.

Jeffrey Hutchings
Department of Biology, Dalhousie University
CEES, Dept. of biology, University of Oslo

To request a one-on-one discussion session with Jeffrey Hutchings, see the available time slots and the link to Doodle at this link.

Published Feb. 3, 2012 3:16 PM