Oral Presentation Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference 2017

The state of fisheries science in the early 21st century - A perspective from the future? (#120)

Brent Wise 1 , Norm Hall 1 , Ainslie Denham 1 , Alex Hesp 1
  1. Department of Fisheries , Perth, WA

Hindsight is said to be far more accurate than foresight, yet blurred memories and the mist of time often cause imperfections to be overlooked. In the year 2017, fisheries scientists were able to look back at progress that had been made through the previous century, a period during which the science-based approach to fisheries management had led to the development of sophisticated fishery models and stock assessment approaches and the indirect effects of fishing had become increasingly recognised. In the first decade of the 21st century, however, recognition that fisheries were still becoming overexploited had led to increased use of risk-assessment based harvest strategies and acceptance that broader ecosystem, social, and economic objectives needed to be considered. Fisheries management had moved from an autocratic to a more open, consultative approach, and removals by recreational fisheries had become a significant component of catches. At that time, i.e. in 2017, fisheries scientists were increasingly focused on resolving issues of the day and, with declining budgets, providing advice on immediate management issues. These immediate management needs precluded a detailed critical appraisal of the longer-term effectiveness of the science and management approaches currently being used. A perspective such as that provided by standing at a greater temporal distance and examining the broader picture was required. This presentation examines how, in 2050, fisheries scientists and managers view the effectiveness and shortcomings of those fisheries science approaches and strategies of the early decades of the 21st century. Was it an age of enlightenment, or an era of lost opportunity?