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SoMAS’ Ellen Pikitch Lends Expertise to Forage Fishery Management

Ellen pikitch e1458835472112
Stony Brook, NY; Stony Brook University Medical Center:  SoMas' Ellen Pikitch
Ellen Pikitch’s commentary is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Ellen Pikitch, professor and executive director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, provides her expertise in forage fishery management with an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), one of the world’s most-cited and comprehensive multidisciplinary scientific journals. Her commentary in PNAS, Stop-loss order for forage fish fisheries, fully supports the requirement that a stop-loss order — a harvest rule in which fishing is suspended when forage fish biomass falls below a minimum threshold — be a required component of forage fish fishery management.

Pikitch notes that forage fish species play an essential role within marine ecosystems by serving as prey for larger species. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the cause of forage fish collapses and to prevent them from occurring. She also states that the use of such a stop-loss order extends far beyond forage fish management, stating, “minimum biomass thresholds for nonforage fish species set at appropriate levels may have substantial ecological benefits and relatively low costs, and deserve much wider evaluation and application.”

Read the full PNAS commentary

More About Ellen Pikitch
Professor Pikitch’s research focuses on fish conservation and fisheries sustainability, with emphases on ecosystem-based fishery management and endangered fishes. Her contributions to advancing ocean conservation range from basic science innovations to achieving domestic and international policy change. She spearheaded the first scientific consensus on ecosystem-based fishery management, which was published in Science. Pikitch chaired the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force, an international team of 13 preeminent scientists whose mission was to develop consensus recommendations for forage fish management that recognized the critical role these species play in marine ecosystems. The task force conducted the most comprehensive global analysis of forage fish management to date, and successfully achieved its charge, releasing its report in April 2012. The report, “Little Fish, Big Impact: Managing a Crucial Link in Ocean Food Webs,” has influenced policy decisions, both nationally and internationally, about forage fish management.

Pikitch also focuses her research efforts on vulnerable and ecologically important marine animals, particularly sharks and sturgeons.

Her recent project, the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program, was founded in response to deteriorating environmental conditions in Shinnecock Bay, Long Island, caused primarily by overfishing and pollution. The goal of the program is to improve the ecological integrity of the bay by restoring shellfish and seagrass beds, which will result in increased population levels of fish and other wildlife, as well as a healthier environment.

Piktich has led several major oceanic field expeditions and served on many high-level scientific panels, including President Clinton’s Panel on Ocean Exploration, the Task Force on Environmental Sustainability commissioned by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and several committees of the National Academy of Sciences. She serves on the Ecological Society of America’s rapid response team, the Seafood Watch Science Advisory Board, and as a director of Shark Savers.

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