02 Jun 2014

Louis Bernatchez—Plenary Speaker Abstract for the 144th AFS Annual Meeting

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Think/Act Globally and Locally; The Essential Contribution of Basic Science Towards Improved Fishery Management
Louis Bernatchez, Université Laval, Quebec City

Photo of Louis Bernatchez

Louis Bernatchez, AFS Plenary Speaker

Economical and budgetary concerns are increasingly pushing government research funding toward utilitarian research with expected quick return for the industry at the expense of basic science. Investing in utilitarian research has obvious merits, yet this creates situations where science funding decisions are increasingly at risk of becoming politicized or where government policies are being established without considering the importance of basic scientific knowledge. This short-term view also assumes that innovation arises in a logical fashion from planned research. Yet, history teaches us that innovations in basic science that fuel utilitarian research often arise from unplanned sources. This means that the probability of scientific innovations follow a heavy-tail distribution, so as to allow consequential discoveries to occur once in awhile and unpredictably. Focusing only on directed utilitarian research simply will miss these heavy-tailed rewards. To get the most out of public money, it is thus crucial to maintain national funding strategies that will ensure an optimal balance between long-term basic research vs. short-term utilitarian research. I will discuss and illustrate from empirical work how this view applies to the conservation of aquatic biodiversity as well as improved fishery management.

Plenary Speaker Abstracts for the 144th Annual Meeting