Anyone trying to communicate about sustainability quickly runs into difficulties. The most common definition, “development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” first appeared in the World Commission on Environment and Development's report, Our Common Future. This concept has been adopted for fisheries with a focus on supporting food security now and into the future. The institutions supporting this notation of sustainability require massive amounts of information in order to ensure that we take the maximum amount of seafood from the ocean without harming the long-term productivity of the fishery. However, high precision monitoring is costly, requires analysis and storage of massive datasets, and can delay decision making. I argue that this mammoth effort has provided us everything we need to create a system that is precisely unsustainable. By focusing on one aspect of sustainability our institutions have marginalized ecological and social aspects of seafood sustainability and hampered the development of corresponding data development. Ultimately, the value of information underlying truly sustainable fisheries is determined by a dialogue among those with diverse values and institutions that fairly and equitably considers those values.
Speaker: Phillip Levin, The Nature Conservancy and University of Washington
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Tiburon, CA 94920
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