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Message from Richard Merrick, Chief Science Advisor for NOAA Fisheries

NOAA Fisheries Delivers World Class Science
August 17, 2015

Take a look at the August 6 op-ed in the Huffington Post by NOAA Chief Scientist Dr. Rick Spinrad et al. titled, “U.S. Can Remain Innovation Leader in Science's 'Endless Frontier”. In the spirit of this article, I would like all of us to recognize NOAA Fisheries’ clear commitment to maintaining the United States as a world leader in marine resource science and stewardship. Here are a few recent examples I’d like to highlight.

First, Fisheries’ annual science program reviews help maintain the quality of our science and also clearly show to our external partners the high caliber of our science. Last week’s review of West Coast marine mammal and turtles programs held at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center was another shining example of quality, with the external panelists heaping praise for our West Coast research teams. 

I also see first-hand the incredible quality of our science at all of our 22+ labs, as I saw in my visits last week to Pasco and Point Adams, and as I expect to see in my upcoming visits to our labs in Panama City, Pascagoula, and Orono.   

I also track the quality and volume of our scientific publications, and I am proud to provide NOAA Leadership a weekly report of our staff’s upcoming publications.  You should recognize that so far this year Fisheries researchers’ work accounts for 36 percent of NOAA’s journal publications (in 87+ different journals), which is similar to the output by NOAA Research staff.

The quality of our science is not lost on NOAA Leadership. Last week I presented to NOAA’s Science Advisory Board a review of NOAA Fisheries’ Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management program. By describing some of our ongoing research, including Integrated Ecosystem Assessments, I was able to show the SAB the incredible quality of our scientific contributions to EBFM.  Interestingly, much of the SAB’s discussion about EBFM focused on the economic and social science research necessary to understand community resilience, and it was easy for me to provide examples of how our folks are stepping up to meet this challenge. 

In addition, the recent GAO review of our approach to stock assessment prioritization recognized that, not only do we do outstanding stock assessment science, but we also have the capability to organize and conduct this science in a fashion that meets both conservation and economic demands.

Finally, what distinguishes our science from much of that conducted by other NOAA offices is its direct connection to our conservation mandates.  Recovery of our trust species, whether they are managed fish stocks or protected resources, relies on sound science.  NOAA Fisheries has been incredibly successful in rebuilding and recovering our trust species. I am proud that our scientists and researchers are not content to rest on past successes but are looking ahead to the challenges of climate changes, and are developing ways to provide climate science advice to our management partners. 

Keep it up folks, this is a great ride!
 

Richard L. Merrick, Ph.D.
Director, Scientific Programs and Chief Science Advisor