OSU hosts world fisheries conference


CORVALLIS - The world's fishery experts will explore deep topics ranging from subsistence whaling in Neah Bay, Wash., to ocean farming off Bangladesh during the 10th biennial conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIF ET).

From July 10-13, hundreds of fishing industry leaders, researchers, educators, policy makers and regulators from 45 countries will fill the CH2M HILL Alumni Center and the LaSells Stewart Center at OSU for "Microbehavior and Macroresults." The title refl ects the conference theme: The ways that individual choices shape the fisheries industry's reality.

Whether they are made by fishing fleets on the open sea, or by consumers at a fish market, these choices can have a global effect on the ecology and the economy of the world's fishing industries, communities, fisheries and future, said Richard Johnston, IIFET founder and an OSU fisheries economist.

To deepen the understanding of this decision-making process, IIFET has invited non-fishing industry presenters such as biologists, ecologists, legal scholars, historians and social scientists to this 2000 biennial conference.

The conference schedule offers both formal and informal seminars where these representatives can address topics such as "Compliance: Why Do People Obey the Law?" and "Property Rights: Design Lessons."

Fishing industry leaders and government policy-makers will present views on developments in food marking and how they relate to management decisions.

One multi-session seminar examines the history and cultural importance of subsistence whaling to some North American indigenous peoples. Among those expected to make presentations is film producer Sandra Osawa. A member of the Makah Nation, Osawa will of fer cultural perspectives regarding the controversy sparked by the Makah's resumption of a ceremonial whale hunt.

Equally topical is the complex task of helping historic fishing communities make basic economic transitions where fisheries have declined.

Other seminars will focus topics such as eco-labeling and organic labeling; using aquaculture to produce food and medicine the health benefits of eating seafood.

A full listing of the topics, speakers schedule and abstracts of specific presentations is available at the IIFET web site.

Ann Shriver, an OSU resource economist who has been IIFET director since 1987, said that while IIFET's business matters are headquartered at OSU, its activities as a neutral international forum exist worldwide. Through this forum, academics, industry and government fisheries experts can freely exchange information vital to shaping sound global resource management and trade decisions.

IIFET grew from a discussion more than 20 years ago between Johnston and several other fisheries economists about the difficulties of uniting government and fisheries experts together at an international forum to discuss fisheries matters of mutual inter est.

"We needed a neutral setting in which we could talk to each other without shouting," he said, smiling.

After the discussion, Johnston took a sabbatical leave and spent much of his time exploring what was needed to make such a forum a reality. With assistance from both OSU Sea Grant and Alaska Sea Grant, Johnston worked to organize a nine-member core commi ttee that keeps the lines of ocean fisheries communication open.

The first conference was in Alaska, but all other IIFET conferences have been held every two years in places such as Morocco, Norway, Paris and Taiwan.

Back for the first time to its origins, this 2000 biennial gathering at OSU highlights the expansion of IIFET's global fisheries information exchange.

"This conference will be only the first conversation in what we hope to be a continuing discussion," Johnston said. Follow-up activities to the conference will include a website links, collaborative research, a new journal, working papers and computer di scussion groups.