Small-scale fisheries research @ IMCC4

From SAFRN’s blog. Hope to see you there!


The International Marine Conservation Congress 2016 is upon us!  For our fellow small-scale fisheries enthusiasts, we’ve compiled a list of sessions, talks, and posters related to small-scale fisheries research that will be presented. We hope you find it helpful as you navigate the large and varied program!

IMCC SSF presentations schedule (Excel)

IMCC SSF Presentations Schedule (pdf)

SAFRN’s work with TBTI on “Stewardship and small-scale fisheries” will be featured in a Special Session titled “Conservation and stewardship in small-scale fisheries: Practices and lessons from around the world” on July 31, 2016, 11:00 – 13:00 in Salon F.  With TBTI, we are also running workshop on stewardship at nearby Memorial University in the days leading up to IMCC – contact us if you are interested in learning about the outcomes from this workshop!

If you know of any SSF-relevant presentations that are not included on our list, please comment below and we’ll…

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Read all about it: Multi-methods approach for estimating Irrawaddy dolphin bycatch

IMG_0835Officially out in Marine Mammal Science this month – another chapter from the ol’ disseration – Multi-methods approach to characterizing the magnitude, impact, and spatial risk of Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) bycatch in small-scale fisheries in Malampaya Sound, Philippines!

Email me to request a copy if you do not have access to Marine Mammal Science.


Addressing the urgent conservation threat of marine mammal bycatch in small-scale fisheries requires information on bycatch magnitude, gear types, population impacts, and risk. However, data on these proximate attributes are widely lacking in developing countries. This study used a multi-methods approach integrating boat surveys and interviews with fishermen (n = 526) to assess proximate attributes of bycatch for the Critically Endangered subpopulation of Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) in Malampaya Sound, Philippines. Given an updated population estimate of 35 individuals (CV = 22.9%), the estimated rate of bycatch fatalities exceeds the potential biological removal rate. Spatial overlap scores were calculated to characterize overlap between dolphins and fisheries as a proxy of bycatch risk. These scores identified particularly high risk areas that could be prioritized for gear bans. However, completely reducing bycatch risk would require more widespread bans beyond these high risk areas. Implementing gear restrictions will be immensely challenging, given serious obstacles to fisheries management at this site. The multi-methods approach describes the urgency of the bycatch problem and the changes required for mitigation, setting the stage for identifying and evaluating potential solutions. It can be readily applied to developing country sites to guide more efficient and complete data collection and conservation efforts.



I would like to thank the Associate Editor, Tim Gerrodette, as well as two anonymous reviewers for their comments. Many heartfelt thanks go to the Malampaya Sound research team: Ely Buitizon, Zion Sunit, Ricky Tandoc, Cristela Oares de Sena, Archie Espinosa, Romeo Borrega, and Eira M. Whitty. Grateful acknowledgements are due to the Protected Area Management Board, Palawan Council on Sustainable Development, the municipal government of Taytay, the provincial government of Palawan, and the study barangays for permission to conduct research in Malampaya Sound; to Alexander Mancio and the Protected Area Office, Marivic Matillano and WWF-Philippines, Lota Creencia and Gerlyn Supe at Western Philippines University, Hilconida Calumpong at the Silliman University Institute for Environmental and Marine Sciences, the Philippine-American Educational Foundation, and the Southwest Fisheries Science Center for logistical support and expertise; and to Louella Dolar for invaluable guidance. Lisa Ballance, William Perrin, Louella Dolar, Paul Dayton, and Ellen Hines provided constructive comments on draft manuscripts.


Permission to conduct research was granted by each barangay, the municipality of Taytay, the Protected Area Management Board, the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, and the Provincial Government of Palawan. Institutional Review Board approval was obtained from the UC San Diego Human Research Protections Program for all interviews. Funding for this research came from the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, National Geographic-Waitt Grants, the Small-scale and Artisanal Fisheries Network, and the Fulbright U.S. Student Program for the Philippines.

Project: Perspectives on the Future of Vaquita Conservation

The vaquita is the most endangered marine mammal in the world. It is a tiny porpoise that is found only in the Upper Gulf of California. Its decline has been primarily caused by bycatch, or accidental capture in fishing gear. Efforts to conserve this hapless species have stirred up a veritable maelstrom of controversy and distrust. For a good overview of the situation, see this article by Andy Revkin.

Our project aims to understand the perspectives of different groups that are affected by or have an interest in vaquita conservation.  We are conducting interviews with diverse stakeholders in the communities of San Felipe and El Golfo de Santa Clara, as well as involved government agencies and NGOs based in Ensenada, Mexicali, and San Diego.  Our main focus is: what might the future of vaquita conservation look like under different scenarios, and what can and should be done to achieve an optimal situation in those scenarios?

This partnership between the Gulf of California Marine Program at the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research will lead to a report for the communities of San Felipe and El Golfo de Santa Clara, research and conservation organizations, and the government.  Hopefully, the results of this project can help communities and conservation groups communicate and work together.

Ta-Daaaa: Defense Presentation Video!

Way back in August (actually, exactly 5 months ago), I gave the most important presentation of my life thus far: my dissertation defense.  It was exhilarating to share my research with a wonderful audience of mentors, loved ones, and well-wishers – it meant so much to see a sea of friendly faces who had taken the time to come share this experience with me!

Of course, most of the beloved colleagues who played vitally important roles in this project were across the Pacific Ocean and thus unable to attend.  So, my fantastic labmate Cotton kindly recorded the presentation using CMBC’s media equipment so that I could share this with them.

And here it is! “Conservation-scapes: An interdisciplinary approach to assessing cetacean bycatch in small-scale fisheries.”

Whitty Defense Announcement

Climate Change & Small-scale Fisheries

From SAFRN’s blog: A lil’ handout I made (and Ana from the Gulf of California Marine Program translated into Spanish) on climate change and small-scale fisheries


One of the great tragedies of climate change is that it will severely impact those who had very little to do with causing the problem.  Natural resource-dependent communities – such as small-scale fisheries – in developing nations face a number of ongoing and potential future threats caused by the actions of developed countries.

A friend of mine, Ryan, was in Palawan with me while he was a Peace Corp Volunteer.  Among his many impressive activities, he taught students about climate change.  I’ll never forget him relating this to me (paraphrased): “It’s frustrating, because they ask me what they can do about it – and they can’t really do anything to stop it, because they aren’t part of the cause.  All I can tell them is that they need to adapt and manage their resources to make them more resilient.”

The impact of climate change on my field sites was apparent…

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Long story short

(1) It’s been a while since I updated this, because

(2) I was busy finishing my PhD, and am now

(3) starting my NSF SEES postdoctoral fellowship at CMBC (yes, staying in beloved San Diego!) with Octavio Aburto and the Gulf of California Marine Program, Ratana Chuenpagdee and Too Big To Ignore (TBTI), the Marine Conservation Institute, and others.  2 weeks in!

signing the rafters of surfside (SIO’s student lounge) – the final test of PhD-dom


Am writing from TBTI’s hometown, Memorial University at St. John’s in Newfoundland, where I’m visiting for a week-ish to outline my project and, with other early career researchers, the role of us “young folk” in TBTI’s future.  It’s been stimulating and fun thus far – will detail more in a future post.

post-meeting drive up to signal hill, st. john’s – behind me is the most eastern point (atlantic side!) in north america

So, yes, long story short: am now Dr. Whitty.  The final PhD stretch was thrilling and exhausting, and I shall detail this as well in a future post.  The doctoral day and immediate aftermath were absolutely wonderful.  The not-immediate aftermath was challenging (post-dissertation-partum depression?).  The 2WSFC in charming Merida, with some post-conference travels, was fantastic professionally & personally for getting me excited about this whole career thing again.  And my first 2 weeks of this postdoc have been wonderful – my new research family at GOCMP is great, this visit is going well, and I’m off to Australia next month for the IUCN World Parks Congress!

Coming up in the not-too-distant: Link to my defense video, overview of my various collaborators and upcoming project, and an update on our lil’ research group, SAFRN!