Marine Resource Education Program Goes West

Announcements | Dec 31, 2016

This graphic depicts blue boats on blue water, with green mountains in the background above a block of white text on blue background that reads: "Marine Resource Education Program West Coast"

In August of 2016, the Marine Resource Education Program (MREP) team hosted their first fisheries science workshop on the West Coast.

The workshop, hosted in Santa Cruz, CA, was specifically designed for the region through collaboration with local fishermen, scientists, and regulators.

Marine fisheries management is a delicate balance of providing jobs, providing fishing opportunities, and providing for the long-term availability of both.

Management of such a delicately balanced system could easily lead to the exclusion of the very people who depend on it for their livelihoods. Fortunately, federal fisheries management in the US considers the needs of fishermen and others with a stake in marine fisheries by requiring their participation in regulatory decisions. Key to effective participation, however, is a comprehensive understanding of the science and policy which underlies the management system. MREP aims to provide fishermen with a comprehensive understanding, which empowers them to effectively participate in marine fisheries management.

MREP West is a workshop series designed for west coast fishermen interested in building their understanding and involvement in fisheries science and management decisions. It was developed to equip fishermen with the tools to confidently engage with the tough issues facing their region today. It specifically runs through the fisheries science and management processes, demystifies the acronyms and vocabulary, and exposes fishermen to the ‘how’ of the whole fisheries management process. Additionally, the program provides a neutral setting in which fishermen can meet the people behind agency jobs, ask personally relevant questions, and share important feedback from the fishing community.

The program is offered as a series of two, three-day workshops. These workshops build upon each other: a three-day Fishery Science Workshop followed by a three-day Fishery Management Workshop. Presenters are drawn from NMFS Regional Offices and Science Centers, the Fishery Management Councils, research institutions, and the fishing community. Workshops are designed and held as a collaborative effort, with industry moderators keeping the discussion relevant to the fishing community.

MREP was created by fishermen, for fishermen. It was founded by local New England fishermen in 2001 to provide members of their community with the tools and information to actively and effectively participate in fisheries science and management. Over the next 15 years the program slowly expanded into other regions as other fishermen have expressed a need for that information. Participants leave the workshops prepared to engage confidently in fishery management and to critically evaluate the science affecting their fishery.

Whether we’re working in New England, the Southeast, the Caribbean, or now the West Coast, our goal remains the same,” said Alexa Dayton, MREP program manager. “We want to foster industry leadership by exposing fishermen to the tools and information they need to effectively participate in fisheries science and management.”

The MREP team also received a significant amount of media attention from industry publications this year, including an in-depth profile in Seafood Source.

This work is generously sponsored by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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