Pinsky Lab reviews “Ocean Recovery: A Sustainable Future for Global Fisheries?” by Ray & Ulrike Hilborn

Zoë Kitchel, PhD Candidate, led a group of Pinsky Lab members (Jeewantha Bandara, Jaelyn Bos, René Clark, Dan Forrest, and Malin Pinsky) in reviewing Ocean Recovery: a Sustainable Future for Global Fisheries? by Ray and Ulrike Hilborn, available online early in Fisheries. The review mentions that the book serves as a needed contrast to the many doom-and-gloom stories and headlines of impending fisheries collapse by highlighting where fisheries are working well, but doesn’t fully expound the challenges to achieving and maintaining sustainable fisheries (e.g., climate change).

Read the full review here in Fisheries!

Climate Change Threatens Commercial Fishers From Maine to North Carolina – Rogers et al. article in Nature Climate Change

Lobster boats anchored off Cutler, Maine.
Photo: Malin Pinsky/Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Drs. Lauren Rogers, Robert Griffin, Talia Young, Emma Fuller, Kevin St. Martin, and Malin Pinsky collaborated on a paper which seeks to understand how climate change will likely affect the fishing opportunities for 85 communities in New England and the Mid-Atlantic. The team integrated climatic, ecological and socio-economic data to identify where strategies for adapting to the ecological impacts of climate change will be most needed. They used 13 global climate models to project how ocean temperatures are likely to change, then examined ocean temperatures and types of bottom habitat to determine where important commercial fisheries species are likely to move. They also looked at whether the species caught by fishing communities are likely to become more or less abundant in the ocean regions where they typically fish.

Read more about the paper from the news outlets below:

Becca testifies on the state of fisheries in front of U.S. House subcommittee!

Dr. Becca Selden discussed climate change as an emerging issue for fisheries in front of the House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife (WOW) on May 1, 2019.  The clip of her testimony is here. Her written testimony, and the video of the entire hearing on the State of Fisheries can be found on the WOW website.

Alternative stable states in conservation behavior in PNAS

Ed Tekwa (postdoc in the lab) led a study just out in PNAS, “Path-dependent institutions drive alternative stable states in conservation.” 

A commercial fishing boat in Reykjavik, Iceland.

We hear almost every day in the news about environmental disasters, but the world is also full of many environmental success stories. Why do we succeed at conservation some of the time, but fail other times? In our paper, we studied people’s decisions about whether to conserve or to over-harvest a renewable resource like fish or timber. Surprisingly, we found that people often get trapped by their past decisions. If they start out over-harvesting, they tend to continue over-harvesting. But the opposite is also true: once people start conserving, this behavior is also self-perpetuating. We built a mathematical model for this behavior, and showed that it explains global patterns in fisheries decisions better than any previous theory.  Our results challenge the conventional expectation that collapse of fast-growing resources is unlikely, but also offer hope that conservation is much easier to continue once we start.

Reuters in-depth reporting highlights our work

Reuters released the results of a more than year-long investigation into climate change, fish, and fisheries called Ocean Shock that we supported throughout. The data in their visualizations are from OceanAdapt and their summer flounder story builds from our NSF-funded Coastal SEES research with Kevin St. Martin, Bonnie McCay, Eli Fenichel, and Simon Levin. We’re all excited to see Mo Tamman and the rest of the team’s wonderful storytelling and science communication skills brought to bear on this important issue!

Science Policy Forum: climate change may spark global fish conflict

Our paper in Science out today, “Preparing ocean governance for species on the move” is available here or in Spanish here.

News coverage:

Warming Waters Push Fish To Cooler Climes, Out Of Some Fishermen’s Reach: Paper in PLOS ONE by Jim, Becca, and Malin!

Jim, Becca, and Malin’s paper, Projecting shifts in thermal habitat for 686 species on the North American continental shelf, was published in PLOS ONE last week (and featured in their Climate Change Channel). The paper details how species’ habitat will shift to cooler waters in the face of climate change.

Researchers projected the habitat shifts under a high-emissions scenario and a low-emissions scenario.

Press coverage included

Becca’s research on Science Friday

Becca Selden teamed up with DataSpire’s Kristin Hunter-Thomson to develop an educational resource with Science Friday’s educational director Ariel Zych. The resource teaches 7-12th grade high school students to interpret the impacts of warming oceans on marine ecosystems. Lab members Katrina Catalano, and Lisa McManus provided valuable scientific review of the resource prior to its publication.

Check it out at:

The ocean is changing. As it changes, the ecosystem and the species within the ocean are impacted, sometimes in surprising ways. This is a story about how some of those changes—in temperature, where fish populations live, and the fishing communities that rely upon them—could play out along the Atlantic Coast in the next century. It’s also a story about making predictions and using evidence from data. Here’s how it’s going to work:

  1. Read a story from the docks of New England: What’s changing?
  2. Meet a scientist and think like one: How do we collect data on the oceans?
  3. Think like a fish: Use data to model changes in fish populations.
  4. Make predictions: Use your model to make predictions and inform the community

New article in PNAS

Just out last week, Malin has a Commentary in PNAS, “Throwing back the big ones saves a fishery from hot water.” In it, he explains why a recent paper by Arnault Le Bris on the Maine lobster fishery provides important insight into efforts to create climate-ready fisheries management. Practices like conserving the female lobsters and not catching the large lobsters have allowed the fishery to flourish as temperatures have warmed, and will likely continue helping the fishery into the future. Despite the overall good news for lobster and the way it has been managed in Maine, many of the stakeholders in Maine have not been as happy with the news (see Portland Press Herald articles here and here).