Conservation at a Cost: U.S. Fisheries Management Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act
Seminar presented by Dr. Olaf Jensen
Abstract: Marine fisheries are a critical component of global food security and provide employment for nearly 40 million fishers worldwide. Many unmanaged fisheries in developing countries continue to be severely overfished. However, managed fisheries around the world, on average, reached their nadir in the 1990s, after which reduced fishing pressure has led to significant recovery of fish abundance. In the United States, this recovery was achieved under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). The original goal of the MSA was to expand domestic fisheries, but since its 1996 reauthorization, it has become one of the most effective pieces of conservation legislation in the United States. Reasons for the MSA's success include a clear separation between scientific and policy decisions and requirements for annual catch limits and strict rebuilding timelines for overfished populations. Despite many conservation successes, fishery management under the MSA has led to dramatic consolidation in many fisheries (fewer but larger vessels) with associated social and economic impacts on fishing-dependent coastal communities. Fish range shifts from climate change and the current COVID-19 pandemic represent additional challenges for fishery management under the MSA.
Bio: Dr. Olaf Jensen is an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin - Madison's Center for Limnology. His research group studies fisheries and aquatic ecosystems, including marine, estuarine, and freshwater environments with the ultimate goal of improving the scientific basis for sustainable management. Dr. Jensen’s work relies on a combination of mathematical modeling, data synthesis, and field studies in locations ranging from coastal ecosystems of Louisiana and New Jersey to the lakes and rivers of Mongolia and Wisconsin. He translates scientific research into policy advice as a member of several scientific advisory committees for fishery management and conservation organizations. He received his PhD at the University of Wisconsin, followed by a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship at the University of Washington.