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JohnP

Good Science vs. Best Available Science

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Most of our regulations are guided (at least in priciple) on stock assessments and estimates of number of fish killed by fishermen). In just about ever fishery globally, fishermen fight tighter regulation by saying that the stock assessments or the sampling methods are not good, or that more information is needed before taking action. (What's interesting is that you dont find many cases where the fishermen are saying there may be FEWER fish than the stock assessments suggest.)

 

Just wondering what folks here think about the role of science, and what level of "exactness" we should expect before taking action.

 

In some cases, we can say the science stinks, maybe even the science is voodoo. But then might we be waiting forever for perfection?

 

When is the science good enough? What qualifications required of somebody who can make that assessment?

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JohnP,

I think part of the problem is that it isn't science at all! It is data collection and statistical anlysis not experimental science governed by a standard method. there is a huge difference, in one you have a theory and then test that theory with experimentation while altering variables for testable results. In the type of "science" employed in this feild (fisheries management" there really is no experimentation so it is tough to test theories.

Just as we are in infintile stages of fish farming we are also in infintile stages of fisheries management and i feel the lobbyists, and panlelists and everybody else who has a hand in "managing" the resource, they should be very apprehensive and always err on the cautious side (in favor of the fish) when estimating or testing a "theory" based on earlier data collection. it's the best we have now but it is far fromt he best.no answers for ya JohnP just a couple of cents smile.gif

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I guess in that sense you are right. This is not the "Scientific Method". We are talking about the oceans, not the labs and you cannot isolate things in a controlled environment to establish absolute certainty. The meaning here is more sampling and modeling techniques, all of which is still treated as a component of science.

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Good topic.

 

I think the majority of assessments are too positive or optimistic. They are difinately inaccurate - and too a great degree.

 

Have you ever spoken to a non-fishing person and heard them say something like:

"There are so many fish out there! Why not take more? I mean, the ocean is huge!"

 

Well, I often wonder why so many people think this is the case. The past few times I've heard this I've actually questioned the comment, and wouldn't you know it, both people cited articles they read in the local paper which spoke about environmental protection. About how the outlook is so good for fish now. About how clean waters surrounding Manhattan are packed to the gills (pardon the pun) with fish now that the water has been cleaned up....

 

It's a little disheartening when people hear me refute their claims that fish populations (especially Bass & Blues) are not incredibly abundant all over the oceans.

 

Now, I assume much of the average Joe's perception of the abundance of fish comes from their view that the oceans are so vast. Little do they know that few fish actually hang out in the middle of the Atlantic. However, I believe that most of their thoughts are backed by misrepresentation of the truth by the popular press.

 

We need more articles from CCA, ALS, and the like to hit the NY TIMES, the POST, the NEWSDAY, etc if we want to inform the public of the true state of our fisheries (not as great as everyone seems to think). That way, maybe we can get some more support against trawlers and other commercial fishermen.

 

**A bit off the subject, but I needed to vent!**

 

THE KID

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BrianZ is right on target.

 

Fisheries population analysis is more of a statistical exercise then it is real science. As with all statistical approaches to many assumptions are made in order to complete the analysis. First, one never knows for sure if the sample being analyzed is of sufficient size to draw any inference, let alone a conclusion. Secondly, given the vastness of the marine envirnoment, one has to be concerned that the area studied is representative.

 

With regards to fishery policy decisions, statistics can only be a rough guide, the validity of which will only be known a half a decade later. Therefore, many more managers and council members should base their decisions on what is best for the fishery, not the fisherman (recreational or commercial).

 

On that note, have you ever heard any fishing person complain that there are to many fish around, of any species.

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Anytime you deal with statistics there's always a margin of error. But this is one case where +/- a few percetage points (the standard margin of error) can make a big difference in the actual numbers and the results.

 

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Jaiem, I believe in the fisheries management "data", they would all be gods if they could even fool themselves into thinking they are within a couple percentage points. I'd laugh if they told me they were accurate to with +/- 75%...give or take 25% wink.gif It just isn't done right...there's bound to be bias introduced into the complicated population models used. It's in those models where a few points one way or the other gets multiplied many times over introducing even more error.

 

I am not a believer in the data we see...and yes, it might be currently the "best data available" but that's only because no one else is doing the math. If only one source is responsible for these population/catch statistic, how insane that they would call it the "best data available", they should call it "OUR Data - like it or not, it's ours, you gotta accept it, you got no other choice."

 

As to the question about never hearing the anglers saying there are way more fish than the data states....I must disagree. Anglers say there are more fish than the data states when it suits them. Take the fluke for instance...when the size limits are being raised and seasons shortened, you hear nothing but how wrong the data is. Now this is human, the commercials do it too. When they want more fish to kill they scream that the data is wrong and there's more fish out there than what the science shows. Again, this is natural, as human beings, it's normal to suspect anything so subject to error that is keeping you from something you want. Thus, I firmly believe that until there is a new method, a method that the majority agrees is "accurate enough", we will always have someone screaming that they are being screwed by inaccurate data. Just the way it works.

 

How good is good enough? I dunno, but based only on how the catch data is gathered, which is a big part of the calculation, I'd bet there's a 90% chance that the margin of error is probably 75% or so. wink.gif

 

TimS

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