Core Themes for 2012: Focus on nuance

One of the main advantages of blogs is that they allow knowledgeable parties to write in detail about their area of expertise. Information can now come directly from experts to the interested public.  This provides an  opportunity for those directly involved in an issue to provide context to (and details of) a story. Here at Southern Fried Science, we strive to provide deeper background in topics in which we are knowledgeable, focusing not only on the broader context but on the subtle nuance.

When covering important new research, we strive to provide important details from the scientific literature and place that research into the broader intellectual framework of its field. We thoroughly examined the bycatch studies from before and after the implementation of dolphin-safe tuna fishing methods and concluded that the new methods are worse for everything that isn’t a dolphin. The fact that new fishing methods kill large numbers of endangered seabirds and sea turtles (in addition to being less sustainable for tuna populations) is an important detail when evaluating whether or not dolphin-safe tuna fishing is a conservation success story.

It is often taken for granted that maximum sustainable yield  is a panacea of fisheries management, but our analysis shows that it is not appropriate in all cases. Maximum sustainable yield models are designed for a single species, which may not be appropriate in multi-species fisheries, and these models do not consider damage done to the ecosystem through destructive fishing methods- both of which are important details when considering a fisheries management model. Our coverage of the history of Somalian piracy considers not just the current economic crisis, but also decades of political turmoil, how extreme weather led to the growth of coastal communities, and interactions with the maritime insurance industry. If we are to come up with a solution to the complex problem of piracy, all of these details matter.

Our coverage of the U.S. shark conservation act was some of the only media coverage (blogs or mainstream media) to mention the exemption for dogfish, which has major international legal implications.   More recently, our coverage of important fishery management meetings like NAFO is some of the only media coverage which includes descriptions of which nations introduced, supported, and opposed which proposed policies. We sought out key players in NOAA’s new ocean policy to provide deeper insight, not only on the effects, but on the process behind the policy changes.

Both science and conservation policy are complex processes, and the details matter. Throughout 2012, we will continue with commitment to provide you with the full story by focusing on the nuance in science and conservation policy.