Newsletter Digest: Fisheries Science, CRI Taskforce and the SMC Media Trackers

The science behind the catch

As we head into Sea Week and New Zealanders digest the message of the hard-hitting documentary The End of the Line which suggests we may be heading towards a “world without fish”, the SMC is gathering fisheries experts to look at New Zealand’s fisheries and their sustainability.

Every year, the country faces difficult and complex decisions about how many fish should be harvested, and science plays a key role in those decisions. Are our fisheries being exploited for short-term gain? Or are current catches sustainable? Perhaps most importantly, how can we measure the difference?

Journalists are invited to participate in this online briefing featuring scientists from NIWA, the Ministry of Fisheries and the University of Auckland. Contact the SMC for details.

Briefing: 11am, March 8 (online and by phone)

CRI Taskforce report well received

Everyone who works in or near the science sector knows the science system needs to change and the path that change may take was signaled this week with the release of the CRI Taskforce report, which recommends a major shake-up in the way the Crown research institutes are funded, structured and governed.

The report is available here. We wrapped up some of the reaction from CRIs and scientific bodies here – the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.

The report arrives as an analysis by the New Zealand Institute of what the country needs to do to close the GDP per capita gap with Australia, and suggests we need to make innovation a more cohesive part of our economy.

Media Tracker: GM, MMR, climate

The SMC’s first Media Tracker survey of the year has been published and while January was a predictably slow month for science news, a number of big science-related stories saw science in the headlines in February.

These included the visit by Dr Nina Fedoroff, Hillary Clinton’s chief science advisor, the Lancet’s withdrawal of the infamous Wakefield paper which in 1998 suggested a link between the MMR vaccine and autism in children, and Prime Minister John Key’s state of the nation speech which had a strong science theme.

January saw a spike in climate change-related stories as reports on “climategate” filled international news pages and discussion of NIWA’s warmest decade report topped up general coverage of weather and climate.

Quoted: “It is now beyond reasonable doubt that the world is warming and that human activities are contributing factors. As a result, it is prudent for Governments to od what they can to reduce the threat posed to civilisation and to the environment by global warming. It is more difficult to answer why, in the face of broad scientific consensus about global warming, the public remains confused.” Professor Grant Guilford, Dean of Science, University of Auckland writing in University of Auckland News.