Andrew Frederick Johnson

Country: USA

Andrew Frederick Johnson is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Centre for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, USA. Andrew works as part of the Gulf of California Marine Program (GCMP), a group that focuses on marine conservation in the Gulf of California (a.k.a. the Sea of Cortez), Mexico. Andrew’s work with the GCMP focuses on understanding 1) the importance of habitat conservation for the fish stocks frequently targeted by small-scale fisheries (SSF) 2) the behavior of small-scale fishers in relation to historic catches and current market prices and 3) how social and ecological conditions determine SSF management outcomes (economically and ecologically).

Andrew's interests outside of the GCMP, among other things, lie in bycatch mitigation and he is currently collaborating on a project to design a SSF toolkit to help fishers assess bycatch risk for their local fisheries. This comes in light of recent trade policy changes related to megafaunal bycatch from trading countries. Although driven by ecological questions, Andrew’s research aims to integrate economics and social sciences to provide a more holistic picture of ways in which current SSF practices can be improved to benefit both fishers and the environment. Andrew is collaborating with TBTI in the Global Synthesis cluster, headed by Rodolphe Devillers. More specific details of Andrew’s work can be found here.

1. What are you currently working on within the context of SSF?

Currently I am working on understanding the importance of local habitat conservation for fisheries productivity and subsequent revenues earned by small-scale fishers. Specifically, this involves looking at mangrove and sargassum habitats and their role in fish recruitment for many reef fish species targeted by SSF. I am also collaborating with a number of scientists within the Aburto Lab at Scripps whose work is focused on SSF - particularly in Mexico.

2. If you could single out one or two most significant factors for securing sustainability of SSF, what would these factors be?

1) I think something that is commonly neglected is consideration of fishers livelihoods. It is always very easy to report on the negative ecological impacts of fisheries  and it is impossible to argue that
these are not important. Alongside these 'ecological impact' studies, it is important to understand the root cause of these impacts. In SSF, this may often be the basic need for food and / or revenue for individuals or communities.

2) All too often there is large conflict between the conservation sector and the fisheries sector. Fishers are too commonly excluded in management conversations and decisions. I believe closer collaboration between these two sectors will lead to more, longer-term solutions to currently dwindling fisheries catches, overcapacity in many of these fisheries and the low value placed on many SSF seafood products.

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