Designing Sustainable Fishery Strategies Through Integration of Genetics and Genomics

Friday, 14 February 2014
Toronto (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Jann Th. Martinsohn , European Commission, Joint Research Center, Ispra, Italy
While moving towards sustainable and profitable fishery is a global goal that is high on the international policy agenda, designing appropriate fishery management strategies and policy frameworks remains challenging. The natural resource of wild fish is not easily accessible to assessment of abundance or exploitation impact, and is also often subject to political quarrels or stakeholder debates.

It is generally acknowledged that independent scientific advice is indispensable to meet this challenge and to support sound fishery and aquaculture management and policy development. This is also reflected in legal provisions and policy frameworks such as the US Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the South Australian Fishery Management Act, and the European Union (EU) Common Fisheries Policy.

Additionally the importance of data availability to fishery scientists is largely recognized and in some parts of the world fishery data collection for research and scientific advice is legally endorsed. An example is the Data Collection Framework, obliging EU member states to collect and provide fishery and aquaculture related, biological, technical and economic data.

However genetic data and information is not yet routinely taken into account for data collection frameworks, or the design of fishery management strategies, and even rarer are examples where genetics are used in combination with traditional fishery data to feed into management approaches.

This is surprising: fishery genetics has a long history spanning more than fifty years, genetic and genomic analytical approaches progress very quickly, recently the publication of peer-reviewed articles on fishery genetics has risen swiftly. And yet fishery genetics mostly prevails in a parallel world instead of being integrated into management strategy frameworks.

Claiming that genetic analysis can provide a valuable asset to the swiftly changing and increasingly complex realm of fishery management and policy making, and by using examples from different parts of the world, this presentation will discuss reasons for its hesitant uptake into fishery management, including a view on costs and benefits in a fishery control context. Based on these observations it will be suggested how stronger collaboration between relevant stakeholders could be created, ultimately leading to a coherent integration of genetics into fishery management, to tackle conventional management challenges along with those associated with a shift towards an ecosystem based approach to fishery management.