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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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NRC Backs Science Behind Fish Census
7 January 1998 7:00 pm
Harsh restrictions imposed on New England's fishing fleets over the last 2 years to save disappearing fish stocks are scientifically sound, according to a report released today by the National Research Council. An NRC committee concluded that the controversial measures--which have banned fishing in vast areas off the New England coast and forced many fishers into bankruptcy--are helping some fish populations rebound. But it says they may need to be expanded to protect other species.
When imposing the restrictions in 1996, federal officials relied on assessments indicating that stocks of three important commercial species--cod, haddock, and yellowtail flounder--were verging on collapse. But critics, mostly in the fishing industry, charged that the clampdown was based on flawed science. To try to settle the controversy, several members of Congress from New England last year asked NRC to review the adequacy of stock assessments, which use mathematical models to predict how fish populations rebound after being culled.
The NRC panel, chaired by Terrance Quinn of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, analyzed assessments for cod, haddock, and yellowtail flounder performed last year by U.S. and Canadian government scientists. After using catch statistics and other raw data to verify the accuracy of the assessments, the panel concluded that the government findings were sound. But not perfect: Echoing recommendations in an NRC report released last month (ScienceNOW, 9 December 1997), the panel recommended changes in the way that government scientists collect, analyze, and share catch statistics and other fisheries data, and called on them to submit their work to more rigorous independent review. Quinn's panel found no scientific merit, however, to the claim that the current fishing restrictions are too severe. In fact, the panel said that tighter restrictions may be needed to protect cod populations in the Gulf of Maine.
The panel's conclusions are unlikely to silence critics of the stock assessment process, says Robin Alden, until recently commissioner of Maine's Department of Marine Fisheries and a major player in the New England fisheries crisis: "I'm afraid [critics] may dismiss this report unless [government fisheries scientists] do more to truly involve the fishing community in the process."