So. My Winston Churchill Memorial Trust fellowship is over. Chile is over. It has certainly taught me a lot. I came here with the an innocence somewhere along the lines of “I am going to tell the world about a great fisheries success story that shows how we can really exploit a resource fairly and sustainably (economically and ecologically).
On the one hand I want to say “unfortunately, this was not the case”.
However, it’s probably better (and more mature) for me to say something like “although things weren’t as perfect as I had imagined, there are a lot of take-home messages from the trip”.
Here are a few points I want to make before I sign off from the blog:
Sadly, poaching is something that is always likely to be there to some extent. The extent, however, will be determined by the amount we (society) invest in two things: Education and policing. If we educate fishers enough, so that they understand the consequences of over fishing and the need to fish at a sustainable level, poaching should be less prevalent. As I said above though, poaching is always likely to be there / here / to exist. Therefore, we need to create an incentive to not poach – strict punishment enforced by better policing. In Chile’s case, this is a major area for development; an area severely lacking at present. The policing issue should also involve education from the other end – educating the judicial system. Clearly demonstrating to the rule-makers why it is so important to invest in policing and enforcing harsher penalties (more than the current slap on the wrist) for offenders.
Although I only briefly skimmed the surface, in terms of investigating future projects within Chilean science, the science to come looks promising. It aims to better understand the effects of fishers on the Chilean coastline (considering multi-fishery effects) as well as attempting to understand the effect of management on the marine ecosystem.Combining the above with evaluations of local economies it aims to evaluate why some areas appear better suited (are more sustainable) to certain management regimes over others. None of this is easy. It requires time, money and firm collaboration between fishers and scientists. Watch this space…
Perhaps we should never get close to using a word like success. For me it implies an end point. As though a job has been finished. If we therefore say “this fishery is a success” then in some ways it implies there is no room for improvement and it can be left in a happy state. This, however, is dangerous. It promotes an attitude of non-evaluation / review. If we think about the old adage – the only thing that is certain is change – then we must always strive to evaluate, improve and adapt our management strategies. Without an adaptive attitude we run the risk of fixing a problem, turning our back on it and having to come back later to fix it again. Far better, is to keep a fishery in our sights (constant evaluation and review) and prevent rather than cure.
It is far better to try to keep a fishery from being unsustainable / collapsing than it is to fix a fishery once it reaches unsustainable limits / collapses.
(Although the WCMT fellowship is over and I have finished the work in Chile. My work is continuing down a fisheries management / fisheries ecology route. I will therefore always be happy to listen to new ideas, answer questions about my trip and receive criticisms)
The final report can be found at: