Scientists and scientific organizations can play singularly important roles as advocates in the public resolution of conservation disputes One scientific organization, the Point Reyes Bird Observatory, was instrumental in resolving an environmental controversy in the early 1980s over the use of gill nets off central California The gill‐net fishery was killing thousands of birds annually. The Point Reyes Bird Observatory's use of its scientific data facilitated negotiation and formed the basis for the threat of litigation These efforts spurred enforcement of federal wildlife legislation and helped forge a permanent solution acceptable to state and federal environmental agencies, conservation groups, and local fishermen. But there are constraints on the active involvement of scientists in public disputes. The contentious nature of the decision‐ding forum, the exigencies and uncertainty inherent in policy decisions, and the bias popularly associated with lobbying efforts all tend to dissuade scientists from participation as advocates in public controversies. The gill‐net case suggests that when coupled with supportive legislation, focused advocacy‐the presentation of relevant data and insistence that it be interpreted accurately and acted upon‐is an effective method of achieving biologically sound policies.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Jun 1, 1989
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