Written by Nereus research fellow Guillermo Ortuño Crespo,
On March 20th, I successfully defended my Ph.D. dissertation on ‘Opportunities for enhancing an ecosystem-based approach to pelagic fisheries management in the high seas’. The past 5 years as a Ph.D. student at the Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab (MGEL) at Duke University and a Fellow of the Nippon Foundation Nereus Program have been extremely enriching at both personal and professional levels. They have provided many opportunities to engage with both the scientific and the international policy communities, and this exposure has been critical for successfully addressing the multifaceted topic of international fisheries management. Over the next few months, I will work alongside my committee and other colleagues towards translating my final two dissertation chapters into peer-reviewed manuscripts and policy briefs, to continue making scientific information readily available to decision-makers to inform management and conservation of international waters. Through my research I try to identify scientific, management, and governance gaps under the existing framework for managing international fisheries for tuna and tuna-like species, and explore how advancements in eco-informatics and vessel monitoring technologies can be used to advance the dynamic spatial management of fishing activities in the open-ocean. Working towards a sustainable management of oceanic species and ecosystems will require a range of simultaneous actions, from revisiting the mandates of existing management bodies and agreements, to generating new spatiotemporal management tools capable of reducing unintended bycatch mortality in a changing ocean. This inter-disciplinary approach to research was at the heart of both MGEL and the Nereus Program and will likely continue to permeate my research in years to come.