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sustainability

Our Lab, Unlocked!

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Our Lab, Unlocked!

Last Thursday, we had the honor of opening our metaphorical lab doors to a select audience of friends, community, and alums of the UW's College of the Environment. We were among three lab groups from the College invited to present our work on the theme of 'Climate and Food.' While we may not have a physical lab filled with beakers and pipettes, we were excited to present some of our work with a wider audience.

Under the overarching title of "Fishing for Justice, Nutrition, and Wellbeing in a Changing Climate," we chose to highlight our lab's work through the presentation of three student-led projects. Lily presented her work on the importance of East Africa's octopus fishery to local livelihoods and food security. She even exhorted the audience to try (sustainably sourced!) octopus soup as an aphrodisiac. 

Brittany, Kadie, Henry, and Emily - presenting their capstone project - spoke about Seattle's potential for national, and perhaps even global, leadership in the seafood sustainability movement. Zach - assisted by MARINA lab alum Jack Cheney - outlined the objective of our new Population Health Initiative grant piloting ways to get underutilized fish species in the California current ecosystem to low-income coastal communities with a need for seafood. 

With such a unique opportunity to engage local community members, Eddie emphasized our lab’s overall mission of conducting research and policy analysis related to the fair allocation of benefits from well-managed coastal ecosystems. He also stressed the importance of our connections with resource users and policy makers, the applied and interdisciplinary nature of our work, and the potential of our lab members to become key influencers in future environment and development policy arenas.

Here are some fun photos of our lab preparing for the presentation:

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Towards an Integrative Framework for Local Environmental Stewardship

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Towards an Integrative Framework for Local Environmental Stewardship

Last week was a busy time for the Lab. In addition to the Cinner et. al. paper published in Nature Climate Science, Eddie Allison and PhD student Hannah Bassett co-authored a paper led by Nathan Bennett entitled Environmental Stewardship: A Conceptual Review and Analytical Framework

The paper deepens the concept of stewardship by presenting a comprehensive definition of environmental stewardship and a framework to better understand conditions that lead to successful stewardship in different contexts. To date, there has been extensive attention and investment in local environmental stewardship with regard to conservation and environmental management policies and programs. However, little attention has gone into understanding the conditions that lead to successful stewardship efforts and the nature of activities that can support, enable or facilitate stewardship maintenance or development. Stewardship, as the authors define it, hinges on three central elements - actors, motivations, and capacity. 

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This figure from the paper shows the analytical framework for environmental stewardship and it's many elements. Asterisks (*) mark leverage points where strategic interventions – via government policies, NGO programs, market mechanisms or other initiatives at a range of scales – can be applied to support or promote local environmental stewardship efforts. 

This paper was published open access, so is available to everyone for free, here!

 

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Allison joins Panel advising Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge

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Allison joins Panel advising Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge

Eddie Allison has accepted an appointment to the Independent Science Panel advising the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge (NSC), a program of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment of New Zealand. In collaboration with other Panel members from Canada, New Zealand and Australia, Eddie will provide the Governance Board and Science Leadership Team of the Sustainable Seas NSC with independent advice and assurance on science strategy and priorities, and with assessments of science quality and performance.

The stated aim of the Sustainable Seas NSC is “to enhance use of New Zealand’s vast marine resources, while ensuring that our marine environment is understood, cared for, and used wisely for the benefit of all, now and in the future.” In particular, the challenge focuses on new ways of managing New Zealand’s marine resources, while incorporating multiple stakeholders and exploring Ecosystem Based Management.

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Which should come first in fishery improvement projects: sustainability improvements or market access? Dr. Allison co-author on Science paper released today

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Which should come first in fishery improvement projects: sustainability improvements or market access? Dr. Allison co-author on Science paper released today

Dr. Allison is a co-author on a paper released today in Science, entitled "Secure sustainable seafood from developing countries". In this Policy Forum paper, Allison and co-authors call attention to the complexity of fishery improvement project implementation especially in regards to the potential for unintended impacts in developing country fisheries. For more information see the UW press release copied below or the full paper in Science.


Demand for seafood from wild fisheries and aquaculture around the world has nearly doubled over the past four decades. In the past several years, major seafood retailers in developed countries have committed to source their seafood from only sustainably certified fisheries and aquaculture, even though it is not clear where that supply will come from. 
A team of researchers has evaluated fishery improvement projects, which are designed to bring seafood from wild fisheries to the certified market while promising sustainability in the future. In a policy paper appearing May 1 in Science, they conclude these projects need to be fine tuned to ensure that fisheries are delivering on their promises.

"Fishery improvement projects are a good idea for sustaining fisheries that supply developed countries like the U.S., but they don't reach the small-scale fisheries supplying local markets in Africa and Asia that employ the vast majority of the world's fisher folk and support a larger proportion of the world's fish consumers," said co-author Edward Allison, a University of Washington professor of marine and environmental affairs.

"Nevertheless, with the E.U. and North America being among the largest markets for the seafood that is exported from developed countries, making this export-orientated part of the seafood system sustainable would help sustain some of their major fishery resources."

Retailers such as Walmart in the U.S. and Sainsbury's in the U.K. have promised that soon all the fresh, frozen, farmed and wild seafood they sell will come from sustainable sources. Respected private third-party certification programs like the Marine Stewardship Council are helping to ensure compliance with standards designed to help conserve fish populations and protect oceans.

While many of the sustainability standards have been met by commercial fisheries in the developed world, fisheries in developing countries make up only 7 percent of the council's certified fisheries, even though these developing-country fisheries account for about half of all seafood entering the international market.

Sustaining fisheries that supply the seafood choices of well-fed consumers in developed countries could lead to neglect of the management needs of fisheries that supply poorer consumers in developing countries, Allison said.

"While the fish imported to the U.S. from poorer countries helps their economies, we do need to leave space for small-scale fishers and fish traders to stay in business, and we shouldn’t let our developed-world appetite for sustainable seafood override more pressing needs for food, employment and the survival of their societies and cultures," he said. "This means also supporting local community-based management and local marketing systems."

Fishery improvement projects have been developed to get fisheries on a path to sustainability. These projects involve partnerships between the fishermen and firms up and down the international seafood supply chain. The partnerships must create market incentives for continual improvements by allowing seafood from these developing-country fisheries to enter the potentially more lucrative export market for certified seafood.

"It is hoped that the projects will protect marine life and ecosystems in areas where local and national governments have not acted to oversee sustainable practices, while also satisfying the demand for sustainable seafood," said Gabriel Sampson, a UC Davis graduate student and lead author of the study. 

Fishery management reforms should include data collection and ongoing monitoring, strengthening harvest and access rights to the resources, limits on the catch, and instituting traceability throughout the supply chain, the researchers say. They suggest, for example, that if access to the fisheries is not better regulated, the current efforts by retailers to secure sustainable, wild-caught seafood could stimulate a "race to fish" and ultimately undermine the sustainability claims.

Without the proper safeguards to ensure progress and reforms in fishery improvement projects, fisheries with full sustainability certification – such as that provided by the Marine Stewardship Council – could find their market benefits diluted by the increased competition for a share of the global certified seafood market.

The researchers project that multiple types of certified seafood in the market could lead to a "race to the bottom" in terms of sustainability standards, unless the fisheries improvement projects are carefully monitored to make sure that seafood retailers closely adhere to the sustainable-improvement requirements for market access.

Other co-authors are James Sanchirico and J. Edward Taylor of UC Davis; Cathy Roheim of the University of Idaho in Moscow; Simon Bush of Wageningen University in the Netherlands; James Anderson of the University of Florida in Gainesville; Natalie Ban of the University of Victoria in Canada; Rod Fujita of the Environmental Defense Fund; Stacy Jupiter of the Wildlife Conservation Society; and Jono Wilson of The Nature Conservancy.

This research was funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Allison's work on food security was also funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.

This story was adapted from a UC Davis news release.

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