In This Issue:
- Understanding Sea Level Rise in the Mid-Atlantic
- Scientists Flex Mussels to Protect Shorelines
- Rethinking Storm-Related Beach Erosion
- Stabilizing Fisheries for the Future
- Clean Marinas a Boon to the Boating Industry
- New Jersey Beaches Shored Up for the Summer Season
- A Legacy of Learning
- Coastal Calendar
Stabilizing Fisheries for the Futureby Marsha Samuel, Communications Specialist, NJSGC
Born and raised in Callicoon, New York, Dr. Olaf Jensen was almost guaranteed a career on the water. Callicoon, a small hamlet founded in the 1600s by Dutch hunters moving west from the Hudson Valley, is situated at the border between Pennsylvania and New York on the shores of the Delaware River. For many residents of Callicoon, the waters of the Delaware are just as much a part of their lives as the blood that runs through their veins.
Jensen spent much of his childhood on and in the river; snorkeling, fishing, camping and canoeing on the Delaware were among his favorite pastimes. What else could a young child possibly want to do when the waters of the mighty Delaware rushed virtually past his doorstep? When Jensen entered his teens, and his horizons expanded, so did his love of the water. He has fond memories of the fishing trips he took as an adolescent out to the Atlantic Ocean, embarking on fishing exploits from the party boats of the Jersey Shore. "I got more into the ocean through fishing trips on the party boats out of Belmar [like] the Lenny and later the Golden Eagle," muses Jensen. "I remember coming back with burlap bags full of bluefish. My friends' jaws would drop. We couldn't catch that many fish in a week on the lakes and rivers near Callicoon."
cruise on Lake Hovsgol, Mongolia.
Following his stint at Maryland, Jensen's continued interest in policy prompted him to apply for the prestigious Knauss Fellowship, which offers the opportunity to spend a year in Washington, D.C. learning about the policy side of marine research and experiencing the process by which science plays an integral part in the development of policy decisions. Spending his year with the National Ocean Service's Biogeography Program, Jensen credits the experience as one of the most formative and influential of his professional life. "[The Biogeography Program] was a small group of creative young marine scientists. I learned lots of new statistical and mapping techniques from this group. More importantly, I learned the importance of long-term observational research at a field site. With the current focus on satellite remote sensing data and high-tech ocean observing systems, many people assume that the days of the naturalist are over. However, more than once our interpretations of data were completely up-ended by conversations with people who had been working at a location for years and could tell us the whole story," Jensen says. "Technology is still no substitute for careful long-term observation."
Since that time, Jensen has become an even more experienced scientist and researcher, earning his Ph.D. in Limnology and Marine Science from the University of Wisconsin. Most recently, Jensen completed his postdoctoral work at the University of Washington's School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, where his research was funded through the Society for Conservation Biology's David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship Program. His research and work have taken him all over the world from Mongolia to the U.S. Virgin Islands but this summer, Jensen returns to the East Coast.
His research proposal to New Jersey Sea Grant was one of four projects selected in late 2009 for funding from 2010 through 2012. The project, slated to run for roughly two years, is entitled Reducing uncertainty in stock-recruitment relationships and fishery reference points using Bayesian meta-analysis.
"The idea for this research grew out of collaboration with scientists at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and the University of Washington," Jensen noted. "We've collected data from around the world on the size of different fish populations through time, how many offspring these fish have, and how hard the populations have been fished. In general, more adults mean more offspring, but ocean conditions can also play an important role. When you graph the data, it's often just a scatter of points. However, when you combine data from many fish populations using statistical models, a much clearer picture emerges. Essentially, you're borrowing information from other species or other populations of the same species. This technique can be particularly valuable for species we don't know that much about."
While the actual method may seem complex, the goal of Jensen's research is simple: to take the data that emerges from the project to make stock assessments of overfished populations more accurate. "This benefits fishermen who frequently have their catch or number of fishing days restricted because of uncertainty in the stock assessments. It also has conservation benefits because more accurate stock assessments mean less chance of accidentally overfishing [an already stressed population]."
Although much of Jensen's work related to the research project puts him in front of a computer screen analyzing data, one suspects that he'll still make plenty of time to go out on the party boats from Belmar to catch the same species he caught as a teen. If his research is successful, he will have helped to ensure that those species populations will be stable and fishable for generations to come.
To learn more about Dr. Jensen's research, visit the Jensen Lab.