"ICES Science Fund opens the new year and creates new opportunities."
Following the success of the Science Fund's inaugural year, Yvonne Walther, Chair of the ICES Science Committee (SCICOM) is happy to open a new call for proposals. The DKK 500,000 (EUR 67,000) fund will support up to ten projects that are developed in collaboration with academic and government institutions from ICES member countries.
Walther encourages scientists that are new to the ICES community to apply: "This is not only a funding opportunity but also a chance to increase your network."
In 2014, the ICES Science Fund supported eight projects. Here, we take a look at what some of these projects have been doing.
Sarah Kraak and Ciaran Kelly used their funds, augmented by The Fisheries Society of The British Isles (FSBI), to convene a workshop at ICES Secretariat where they discussed concepts from behavioural economics and whether these could be used in fisheries management.
Behavioural economics challenges the view of human beings as homo economicus in two ways: first, that human beings are often not rational; as a result of cognitive biases, emotional reactions, and volitional weaknesses, they often fail to act in their own best interest; second, that human beings are not only motivated by narrow, economic, self-interest, but may also have other-regarding or altruistic preferences, called "social motivations". The discipline popularized the concept of a nudge, which is "any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people's behaviour in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid…Putting fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not." (Thaler and Sunstein, 2008)
The workshop brought together sixteen people, including fisheries scientists and fisheries-naïve behavioural scientists. While ideas for future research came up, the group also felt that this is only the start of a journey. According to Kraak, "Scientists cannot learn a new discipline in three days. The group felt like teenagers in the new field of Behavioural-Science Applications to Fisheries Management; they, as well as the field, need to mature."
Follow the progress of this project on their LinkedIn group page: BehavFish Working Group.
Kathryn Hughes, Michael Kaiser, and Ricardo Amoroso are carrying out research that will enable countries which do not currently have the skills to analyse and process fishing effort (VMS) data. This will be implemented through in-house workshops in Chile, Argentina, South Africa, and Namibia, where fishing effort data is available in raw form. The workshops will train fisheries specialists in these nations on how to clean, process, and spatially visualise fishing effort data. Understanding where fishing effort is focused is essential for sustainable fisheries management, and the first step in spatial fisheries management. In September 2014, the project leaders collaborated with CSIRO in a workshop development meeting to better understand the vital elements of analysing fishing effort data. At this meeting, code was written which can be applied to other datasets, and a step-by-step process determined for how to analyse fishing effort data. Workshops are planned for Chile and Argentina in February 2015, and South Africa and Namibia in April 2015. The final product will be included in a global dataset to estimate a 'fishing effort footprint' on shelf areas. The research supported by the ICES Science Fund will enable at least three scientific publications including regional as well as global analysis, concerning spatial fishing effort, and potentially habitat impacts, in areas where spatial fishing effort has not yet been quantified.
How can ICES best mobilize the 1000+ scientists in its network? The main objective of this research study, led by Friederike Lempe, was to give quantitative and qualitative insights into the organizational structure of ICES. Social network analysis was applied to assess how different ICES expert groups (EGs), of which there are more than 220, are interconnected through a continual exchange of expertise based on shared membership ties. Using a multilevel perspective on social networks, sub-networks, comprising all EGs that proved crucial to realize an ecosystem approach in the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, and the Barents Sea, were analyzed.
Lempe states, "We found that there already was strong cooperation between most of these EGs. However, a better integration of certain EGs that are equally relevant, but more peripheral within the sub-network, could help support an ecosystem approach, as promoted by the current ICES Strategic Plan."
In addition, findings from the quantitative network data analysis were complemented and validated with fourteen qualitative expert interviews. These interviews provided deeper insights into the organizational structures, including their strengths and weaknesses. The interviews revealed the importance of social networks in ICES science, and from this Lempe suggests that individual engagement is the most important asset for ICES science and advice. The project collaborated with WGMARS and the Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Photo: Marine Institute, Ireland