Ocean Modeling Forum – making models matter

Since the summer of 2014 I have been the Managing Director of the Ocean Modeling Forum, a joint project between the UW’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center. The Ocean Modeling Forum (OMF) supports ad hoc working groups formed around single ocean management issues (fisheries management, ocean acidification, spatial planning, energy, etc.). Our aim is to improve the usefulness of models in ocean ecosystem management – by bringing multiple models to bear on the same issue at once. Working groups are comprised of modelers, empiricists, managers, resource users, and stakeholders, and meet several times over the course of 1+ years.

The OMF is in start-up mode, and I’ve been wearing multiple hats: developing the agenda, hiring the facilitator, navigating the politics, and booking the caterer. It reminds me of working in fringe theater in the mid-1990s: everybody worked the box office, danced on stage, designed costumes, and painted the set.

Our final meeting of our first working group, focused on Pacific sardine, takes place later this month. Next week, we start our 2nd working group, focused on incorporating human dimensions and traditional knowledge into formal fisheries assessment processes, using Pacific herring as a case study. That working group with launch with a Herring Summit next week in Richmond, B.C.

The Summit in Richmond will be a rich, fascinating and hopefully productive meeting. We will have over 100 attendees, representing First Nations and tribes, NGOs, state/provincial and federal agencies, universities, industry, and the media. We will discuss issues ranging from the role of humpback whale predation on herring, to archaeological evidence of historical herring abundance, to how to measure equity and self-determination, and how those are influenced by fisheries management processes.

One thing is for sure — I’m going to learn a ton.

Follow the Ocean Modeling Forum on Twitter: @oceanmodeling and on our website http://oceanmodelingforum.org/.

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