My name is Kendall and I am a new Sea Grant scholar, a 2021-2022 Natural Resource Policy Fellow, stationed in Charleston on the south coast. I was matched with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at the south coast field office to work with management to develop a conservation and fishery management plan for a currently closed recreational fishery.
It has been a hectic and rewarding start to my fellowship so far! I have been researching conservation and fishery management plans and working with my fellowship host to build the framework for the imperiled red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) fishery. I already had a background in fisheries and particularly with the history of the red abalone fishery in Oregon, due to my position at ODFW as a shellfish biological aide prior to graduate school. What I did not have was a familiarity with the difficulties in creating a new type of management plan that considers multiple objectives and viewpoints that might counteract one another.
The most interesting revelation I have had so far during this process is that writing a conservation and fishery management plan is not common for fisheries, and is quite different from a typical fisheries management plan. The most imperative way it differs has to do with the concept that this management plan does not mean that there will be a fishery. Instead, there are two simultaneous objectives that could naturally be seen as opposites. The first objective is to protect and conserve the species in question, and the other objective is to develop a fishery for that same species. Working through this process so far has been a unique exercise in recognizing, appreciating and applying different stakeholder perspectives. Often it seems that agencies, organizations and individuals view these objectives as contrary to one another, and further, that one objective and perspective nullifies the other. My main task is to take each perspective and goal and find ways to merge the two together to benefit the red abalone population in Oregon, as well as honor the cultural, social and economic importance of the resource. I look forward to learning more about each perspective and working towards a common goal to create a sustainable, socially and biologically conscious fishery while continuing to explore the specifics of conserving an elusive and fascinating invertebrate species.