Project Seahorse at #IMCC4

Project Seahorse is well represented at the International Marine Conservation Congress taking place from July 30th to August 3rd in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.  
Below is a listing of where you can find us!

Sun July 31, 11:00 - 13:00, Salon E (C19 - Fisheries, aquaculture and the oceans)
12:15 Ting-Chun Kuo and Lindsay Aylesworth - Quantifying fishers' catch rates: exploring recall bias in reporting time slices  
Fisher interviews are commonly used as a means to understand the status of the fishery when other datasets are unavailable. However, how reliable are reported quantified data such as catch rates? Using interview data from commercial trawl and small-scale gillnet fishers in Thailand, we explored the potential for varying recall bias in fishers' reported catch rates of seahorses (as memorable species) across different slices of time (e.g., day, fishing trip, month). Our hypothesis was that if such recall bias exists, catch rate reported based on different time slices would vary at the levels of both the individual fisher and the fisher population. We found for both gear types that when fishers reported on a shorter time slice (haul, day), annual catch estimates were significantly higher than when they reported on a longer time slice (month, year). The high levels of variation in our catch rates resulted in great uncertainty of estimating the seahorse catch. However, the validations of reported catch rates with external datasets were inconclusive. As a result, we reported both the median and mean catch estimates to account for the highly skewed distribution of our data. Our research highlights the shorter time slices lead to higher annual catch estimates and have strong implications for fisheries management of data-poor species. 


Mon Aug 1, 3:45, Salon G (c24 - Fisheries, aquaculture and the oceans)
Danika Kleiber - The invisible walking fishers: gleaning, gender, food security, and marine spatial management
Gleaning is an ancient form of fishing practiced throughout the world-the act of catching or collecting marine species in intertidal habitats. Gleaning is often left out of fisheries and marine conservation research, in part because of narrow understanding of fishing as something that happens in boats, and in part because it is often done by women and other marginalized groups. To examine the importance of gleaning this research examines the gendered, economic and food security aspects of gleaning in the Central Philippines. In this area gleaners were predominantly women, and more likely to be fishers that retained all their catch for family consumption. Gleaners were also more likely to be from families that had lower food security, and from communities with larger intertidal areas suitable for gleaning. Gleaners also targeted invertebrates, and their catch contributed substantially to both their total estimated weekly income from fishing (13%), and to total weekly edible biomass that was retained for family consumption (27%). Gleaning also produced smaller but more reliable catch than other fishing methods. The reliability of gleaning, and the reports that gleaning was often done when other forms of fishing are unavailable contribute to its importance as a source of food security. This research highlights the importance of gleaning to food security, and livelihood strategies, and the need to include gleaners in community-based marine spatial management efforts.


Tues Aug 2, 8:30-10:30 (FG85) Canada's policies on marine species at risk, past and future Join Amanda Vincent, John Reynolds, Julia Baum, Brett Favaro, Isabelle Cote and Susanna Fuller to generate vital collective action for marine species at risk in Canada. 

We will explore Canada’s history with, and help define Canada’s future for, marine species at risk.  

The focus group will allow participants to explore the challenges for marine species at risk and develop ideas to help create the political and policy changes needed to provide better support for Canada’s marine life.  

We will then take these ideas forward to effect change in Canada’s use of policy instruments for marine species conservation. 


Tues Aug 2, 11:00-13:00 (SY 51)  Beyond engagement: turning citizen science findings into conservation and policy action (Vancouver Aquarium with Project Seahorse are the organisers).
12:00 Chai Apale - Citizen Science is helping save Philippines seahorses and their seas
 iSeahorse is designed to put the power of marine conservation in the hands of local citizens throughout the world, wherever seahorses are found. The program provides a platform for individuals and groups to contribute information on seahorse sightings, and supports them in using the data they (and others) collect to advocate for conservation gains on behalf of seahorses and their marine environments. In order to kick-start iSeahorse, we secured funding to employ a national iSeahorse champion in the Philippines for two years. Her work enabled iSeahorse contributors to make measurable and important conservation gains for seahorses and their marine habitats: (1) iSeahorse was the catalyst for the creation of a new marine sanctuary in Bohol where a local dive organization used iSeahorse data to petitioned for protection of valuable, yet threatened, seahorse habitat; (2) the Filipino government used data from iSeahorse to develop an action plan in support of sustainable seahorse fisheries and trades; and (3) there is now a larger and more engaged constituency supporting seahorse and marine conservation in the Philippines through iSeahorse collaboration with individuals, communities and institutions. That said, it has sometimes been difficult to engage fishers as contributors, because of legal issues, poor access to technology and the need to incentivize contributions. Nonetheless, thanks to iSeahorse, Filipino seahorses and seas are better protected.    


Wed 3 Aug, 8:30 -10:30 (SY20) Making bad better: Advancements in trawl fisheries research and mitigation.   
This symposium aims to highlight advancements in our understanding of the impacts of trawl fisheries and how they can be better managed, seeking commonalities in process that can provide insight into how to better manage even the worst examples. One of the greatest challenges facing both fisheries management and marine conservation today is how to regulate and therefore reduce the impact of the world’s bottom trawl fisheries. 

Bottom trawling is a very common fishing practice in much of the world, providing (with dredging) about a quarter of the world’s fish catch and half of the invertebrates. Many of the world’s bottom trawl fisheries are far from well-managed, particularly in areas such as southeast Asia where they are sustained only by perverse subsidies. Making matters worse, many of the trawls are working to extract any and all life, without discretion or distinction. 

Solutions to this global problem seem untenable, but researchers have made considerable process in understanding the extent and impact of trawl fisheries, as well as approaches and methods for mitigating impact. This symposium will bring together these stories – on biomass fishing, trawl impacts on threatened species, as well as recent advancements in understanding impact and mitigation –seeking insight into how to improve practices in the rest of the world. 

While Sarah Foster and Amanda Vincent are the organisers they are also presenting the following talks: 

8:30 Amanda Vincent - Addressing annihilation trawling and the associated environmental and human rights abuses

8:45 Sarah Foster - Small bycatch of a small fish add up to a lot


Wed 3 Aug, 4:14, Salon C (part of the Marine Policy theme on that day)  
Lindsay Aylesworth  - Taking a dose of our own medicine: implementing conservation policy for marine fishes
What happens when we force ourselves, as providers of conservation advice, to take policy and management action based on that advice?   Conservation advocates and scientists often initiate regulatory change that has significant implications for government but seldom experience the challenge of responding to such change.  In this case study, we place ourselves in the role of the government of Thailand, facing its obligations to seahorses (Hippocampus spp.) under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).   Our team’s evaluations had led CITES to issue direct recommendations to Thailand for remedial action to ensure that its exports of four seahorse species do not damage wild populations. We ran through a CITES-prescribed framework (that we developed) to evaluate the risk to two of these species from various pressures and determine whether appropriate management was enforced and is currently effective.  Three core questions emerged: 1) what pressures are putting wild populations of the species at risk; 2) is management in place to mitigate the risk or offset those pressures; and 3) are the species responding as hoped to the management policy.   Using two key species, we identified risk above a tolerated level for exports of H. trimaculatus because there was a lack of appropriate management in place to mitigate risks.  We also determined risk was tolerable for exports of H. kuda but only with monitoring in place to evaluate how the species was responding to management. Under CITES regulations, exports of both species would be prohibited until more precautionary management emerged.  We found the process of such evaluations to be challenging, even without the obligation to consider social implications of our evaluations.  It became apparent that such evaluations will always be imperfect but this may be acceptable in the context of adaptive management. Conservationists will do well to keep in mind these challenges in their advice and advocacy.  

For more details look at the IMCC program