Fisheries management is a tough job. The managers of these marine resources must understand complex science, an array of policy tools, and a tangled web of guidelines, regulations, and legal structures. The people who wake up to this task each day must manage the natural resources that provide significant economic, social, and recreational benefits. This is no small matter: the sale of domestically caught fish and shellfish brings in approximately $4 billion per year for the commercial fishing industry.
This difficult task of fisheries management falls to the members of eight regional councils in the U.S. These managers reside all across the country and come from diverse professional backgrounds. Many members of these fisheries management councils are commercial and recreational fishermen who are learning how to navigate the complex legal structures that govern their fisheries. They need science-based training, access to experts, and a safe environment to voice concerns and learn from peers.
Enter the Fisheries Forum: a voluntary workshop for fisheries managers from across the country. The Fisheries Forum was developed jointly by Environmental Defense Fund, Stanford University, and Duke University with support from the Packard Foundation.
Each spring and fall, members of the eight regional fisheries management councils meet at Duke or Stanford where they are joined by scientists and experts from throughout the United States. During the 3-day workshop, participants explore a variety of science and management topics through a series of case study exercises. Rather than prescribing a single solution to diverse situations in different parts of the country, the case study approach enables discussion of a range of perspectives and potential tools. Along the way, participants develop management skills such as negotiation, consensus building, and structured decision making.
When they return to their councils, thanks to the Fisheries Forum, managers are better informed on science and policy, and have a network of peers who deal with the same issues.