The SCRFA Travel Award
A Science and Conservation of Fish Aggregations (SCRFA) Student Travel Award of US$800 is available to a student working in the Gulf and Caribbean Region to attend the upcoming conference.
The SCRFA Student Travel Award is to encourage and help students to work in this important area and showcase their ideas and work at GCFI.
SCRFA will determine the recipient of the travel award based on the following criteria:
- The applicant must be currently enrolled as a University student.
- The student must be working on, or proposing to work on fish aggregations in the Gulf of Mexico and/or Caribbean Region.
- The student must apply for this award by 31 July of the year of the award.
- The student must submit a short letter to SCRFA detailing the importance of attending GCFI to future career goals, including their major professor “certification”, stating the current academic standing of the student, and their progress toward their degree.
- The student must submit an abstract to GCFI to present a paper or poster at the upcoming conference on any of the three themes below.
SCRFA will make their decision by 15 August. The student receiving the travel award:
- Must let SCRFA know by 1 September if they will attend the GCFI meeting.
- Will be responsible for obtaining relevant travel visas.
- Will still be eligible to compete for other GCFI awards.
- Will receive the award in a formal presentation at the GCFI meeting.
SCRFA Student Travel Award Themes
The paper or poster should be on current or proposed study on fish aggregations, addressing any of the following themes.
- Education and Information
An important aspect of SCRFAs work is to significantly increase awareness of what aggregations are, why they are important for fish reproduction and as a basis for fisheries, why there are concerns over their future, and to highlight a range of solutions to ensure their long-term persistence. We believe that one of the biggest obstacles to better use of fisheries resources, including aggregating species, in many countries is a fundamental lack of understanding of how they work. For example, it is still believed in some areas that if catches decline locally the fish are still around but have moved elsewhere. Such misconceptions can make steps towards sound management difficult.
- Research and Monitoring
SCRFA aims to substantially improve general understanding of the biology and ecology of aggregating species, how fisheries interact with them, and what are the possible approaches for ensuring healthy fisheries. This includes developing methods of biological study, and a scientifically robust approach to monitoring aggregating species and their associated fisheries. Both are highly challenging and offer great scope for science in this area.
- Affecting Area Specific Change
SCRFA works to improve awareness and management of fish aggregations through helping to affect area specific change of perspective by managers, the general public and importantly by fishing communities. Historically, many aggregations have been the focus of seasonal or “bonanza” fisheries, an eagerly anticipated time for communal and low intensity subsistence activities. It is now evident that commercial exploitation can rapidly deplete these events, and it is an ongoing challenge to identify an appropriate and achievable management approach and facilitate a change of perspective regarding their use and need for management. For example, complete protection of aggregations may be applicable if there are demonstrated impacts of fishing on reproductive output, such as disruption of spawning, fishing cannot be controlled by conventional fisheries management, and a community understands the benefits of protection. Alternatively, it may be easier, cheaper and more acceptable to focus management using conventional management tools, such as quotas, effort control, gear regulation, seasonal closures, sales bans and fish size limits. Affecting change requires a good scientific basis and appropriate outreach.