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The Barefoot Ecologist's Toolbox—re-scaling fisheries assessment and management

Prince, J. (2008) The Barefoot Ecologist's Toolbox—re-scaling fisheries assessment and management. In: The Bevan Series on Sustainable Fisheries, 21 February, Seattle, USA.


According to the collective experience of Hilborn, Orensanz and Parmam, one of the three primary causes of unexpected failure in fisheries assessment and management is a mismatch between the scale of the fished population, and the scale of assessment and management. Starting with my own doctoral studies on abalone (Haliotids) and continuing on through experience with a range of species (including deepwater and reef fish, sharks, prawns, sea urchins and sea cows) my personal bias is to promote the Tyranny of Scale to the top of their short list. As a depressed new doctor working within a government fisheries agency I considered sustainably managing a world full of micro-stocks an impossible task. However, after almost thirty years working on the interface between the fishing industry and government agencies I've seen that it's entirely possible. All it takes is the appropriate form of limited access system linked directly to the responsibility to fish for information as well as for profit, a new breed of fisheries practitioners I call the barefoot ecologists, and a toolbox full of pragmatic approaches such as scale-less assessments and data-less, or rule-of-thumb management.

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