Paul Curtis, a professor and wildlife specialist at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., has spent decades studying coyote aggression. His research in New York parks 15 years ago determined that humans feeding the animals, which are territorial, drove most incidents of aggression.
The NMFS-Sea Grant Joint Fellowship Program in Population and Ecosystem Dynamics and Marine Resource Economics is designed to help Sea Grant fulfill its broad educational responsibilities and to strengthen the collaboration between Sea Grant and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Since 1990, Sea Grant and NMFS have partnered to train students through this joint fellowship program in two specialized areas: population and ecosystem dynamics as well as marine resource economics. Population and ecosystem dynamics involve the study of fish populations and marine ecosystems to better assess fishery stock conditions and dynamics.
DNRE faculty S.A. Sethi estimates the size of a herring shoal in Moalboal, Philippines. Photo credit: Joe Warren.
Overfishing has led to rapidly declining fishery catches and marine ecosystem degradation in many tropical communities. To allow stocks to recover and transition towards sustainable fishing, reductions in fishing effort are needed. But, residents in tropical communities typically have few economic alternatives to fishing and harvest effort remains high. In a recently completed project funded by the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability, DNRE faculty Suresh A. Sethi and Dr. Aaron Rice at the K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics worked with colleagues at the Environmental Defense Fund to investigate whether marine ecotourism could provide alternative incomes to fishing in the Philippines. Marine ecotourism derives non-extractive benefits from the same natural capital supporting fisheries, and has potential to both reduce the economic reliance of tropical communities on fishing as well as promote the protection of habitats supporting marine ecosystems. Using a combination of economic valuation and fishery assessment techniques, the group found that a series of small marine reserves in the community of Moalboal, Province of Cebu, protects nearshore coral reefs and supports significant marine ecotourism activity related to diving on schooling fish. In 2018, prior to the COVID pandemic, marine ecotourism in Moalboal brought in >17.0M USD annually to the community. And, because the sector is community managed, much of the economic wealth remains in the local community, employing ~1000 residents, including fishermen. In contrast, the group estimated that the harvest value of the protected pelagic fish schools that drive the ecotourism visitation would only be about $7000 USD per year. In an article published in Biological Conservation, the authors discuss the pros and cons of marine ecotourism and identify enabling conditions for successful integration of marine ecotourism as a strategy to diversify economic opportunities for tropical fisheries-reliant communities. Moving forward, the group plans to return to Moalboal to investigate the impact of COVID 19 on ecotourism and assess whether this sector can be resilient to global economic shocks.
Cooperative Extension programs have a long history of teaching readiness and survival skills—and with more funding, they could help us get ready for future outbreaks
By Athena Aktipis, Keith G. Tidball on May 11, 2021
“I’m from the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, and our collaborators are from information science and education, so this is the first time we have had this kind of interdisciplinary collaboration – which is really valuable.” -Yue Li