By Janet Krenn
This March, Virginia Sea Grant Director Troy Hartley was appointed to a national committee that will evaluate the effectiveness of fisheries management. Formed at the request from Congress by the National Research Council (NRC), the Committee on Evaluating the Effectiveness of Stock Rebuilding Plans will spend this year learning about efforts to rebuild fish stocks around the U.S. and advise Congress on best practices for future efforts.
Although being asked to participate on an NRC committee is an honor, Hartley points out that the committee is a natural extension of Virginia Sea Grant’s research and advisory roles in the Commonwealth.
“Sea Grant is recognized as a source of cutting edge science,” says Hartley. “We also have our boots on the ground, working with communities to achieve their environmental, economic, and community goals—we understand the human dimensions of making management actions effective.”
To answer this question, 13 biologists, ecologists, mathematicians, and social scientists will evaluate the progress of stock rebuilding measures. In the end, the Committee will try to assess the biological, social, and economic factors underlying the success or failure of stock rebuilding plans. Hartley’s role on the NRC Committee is to focus on the socioeconomic factors.
This is where Hartley’s expertise comes in. Amongst a committee of mathematicians, fisheries biologists, and ecologists, he is the only social scientist who studies how human behaviors and relationships affect the success or failure of policies. According to Hartley, understanding these human dimensions is key to developing and implementing effective policy. After all, he says, “Fisheries management regulates the behavior of people—not fish.”
The Committee on Evaluating the Effectiveness of Stock Rebuilding Plans will meet at least four times throughout 2012, in the Northeast, Northwest, and Gulf of Mexico. Afterward, the Committee finalizes it report for Congress, NOAA, and other fisheries stakeholders. The Committee was formed by the National Academies of Science’s National Research Council, which has been convening scientists to advise Congress, government agencies, industry, and others since 1916.