Earth Day Interview with Kiva Oken
Earth Day 2020
Earth Day began in 1970 as a movement for transformative environmental change, and Earth Day's mission and momentum has only grown since. This year, the chosen theme is climate change - a subject that influences and impacts the Marine and Coastal Sciences greatly. As part of our continued efforts to advance our understanding of coastal and ocean systems and improve the sustainability of those systems and the communities that rely on them, we did a virtual interview with one of our Assistant Professors, Kiva Oken, who is giving us a focus on fisheries, plus some information about how they're being affected by climate change and COVID-19.
What Are You Working On Currently?
"Some of my current research is on the benefits of diverse fishing portfolios to reduce risk and stabilize fishing revenue (kind of like financial portfolios). I've found that those benefits depend on the underlying ecology of the system and life history of the populations, but the diverse portfolios may be especially important in the future because climate change will bring a lot more variability and uncertainty to fisheries. The current situation with Dungeness crab and whale entanglements is a great example of unexpected impacts of climate change."
Read an article on whale entanglements featuring quotes from CMSI Associate Director of Research Initiatives Marissa Baskett here
How Is Climate Change Affecting Fisheries?
"A paper I co-authored showed that fish populations are already responding to warming sea temperatures-- about an equal number of populations are doing better vs. worse. However, the ones doing worse are bigger, so we estimated that the capacity of the oceans to provision food has already declined. Populations with a history of overfishing were more likely to respond negatively, so good science-informed management will be important to ensure fisheries are robust to climate change."
How Are COVID-19 and Sheltering In Place Orders Affecting Fisheries?
"With regard to COVID, I think fisheries are really hurting since most seafood is consumed at restaurants. So buy some local fish when you go to the grocery store! In addition, there are questions about what's going to happen to huge seasonal fisheries that draw people from all over the world but operate out of really small isolated towns. It's particularly complicated because the whole economy there relies on the fishery."