Resource Management in the Face of Uncertainty
Daniel Hayes, Bryan Burroughs, and Bradley Thompson
This was a common theme from commercial fishermen while I (DH) was with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, working on Haddock Melanogrammus aeglefinus as a stock assessment scientist. While it is true that there was considerable imprecision or uncertainty in our population estimates, the weight of evidence from fishery independent surveys and from the fishery itself clearly showed that Haddock was severely overfished. To convey this message, we stated, “there was no uncertainty in the overall status of haddock and more importantly, in the cause of their depleted state.” In the politically charged and reactive environment of fishery management during the 1990s, the message from the scientific community did not get any traction with fishers or local congressmen and senators. This seriously limited how quickly actions could be taken to limit the fishery and the extent to which harvest reductions could be implemented.