The last week of November saw the second meeting of IPNLF’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC). Our first meeting of the STAC was in February 2014, since which three Technical Reports have been published.
The STAC are a group of independent scientists, consultants and researchers who bring their collective expertise together to guide the work of IPNLF. These meetings are essential as they identify the key issues in the fisheries we work with, and ensure relevant research and appropriate data-collection is incorporated into our activities. As an organisation that focuses on a science-based approach to our work the STAC are a crucial in ensuring that our work and aims are supported by the latest research and scientific thinking.
In Kuala Lumpur, we were lucky to have all members of the STAC, all staff and all-but-one of our trustees. While sitting around the table, we estimated that approximately 376 years of tuna expertise was in the room, taking part in discussions that will drive the future of pole-and-line.
The first meeting in February showed a need for more social and economic expertise, and so Dr. Kate Barclay and Dr. Dale Squires came on board and were a key part of the planning discussions for the next year.
The meeting was opened by Dr. Mohamed Shainee, the Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture of the Maldives, who said “I implore you to think of pole-and-line as a tool for management”, due to it’s naturally restrictive nature.
Our STAC members travelled from around the globe to join in the discussions in Malaysia. While much of our collaborative work, as a small international organisation, is carried out with the help of technology – emails, skype and conference calls being part of daily life – there is priceless communication value from having everyone together in person. Emily Howgate, our IPNLF Programme Director, says “It’s that ‘person to person’ value that defines why we invest in these yearly STAC meetings – we come away knowing better our collective strengths, opportunities and challenges…and feeling supported by the expertise and energy of long-distance colleagues who, after a couple of days tuna-talk and shared meals, don’t seem quite so far-away”.
All STAC members presented research relevant to IPNLF’s work over the first day, followed by a second day of discussions and work planning for the next twelve months. Presentations varied from discussing our progress on baitfish management in Indonesia, socio-economic methods to evaluate community benefits of local fishing industries, up to ways to improve national data collection systems and technological innovations that could improve efficiency.
We’re pleased to say that a number of key areas have been identified, and we look forward to sharing the outputs of this collective wisdom with you throughout 2015.