The annual Haig-Brown lecture is quickly approaching, and this year’s event features a topic – and one of the world’s foremost experts – on a subject near the top of many people’s minds these days, especially on our coast: fish populations.
University of British Columbia professor Dr. Daniel Pauly acquired his doctorate in fisheries biology from the University of Kiel in 1979 and has spent most of his waking moments since studying global fisheries, going so far as to found and lead a large research project devoted to identifying and quantifying fisheries trends world-wide.
He also founded FishBase.org, an online encyclopedia of more than 30,000 species of fish, authored or co-authored more than 1,000 scientific articles, books and book chapters on fish and fish-related topics and is the recipient of multiple international prizes and awards, including being knighted by the French government for his research work.
His presentation, being held Oct. 16 at the Tidemark Theatre and entitled “Reflections on Shrinking Fish and Warming Oceans,” is the 10th annual Haig-Brown Lecture, so it’s a bit special, according to Ken Blackburn, who organizes and oversees the event each year.
“We’ve brought in world class speakers over the years, and Daniel Pauly certainly continues this trend,” Blackburn says. “He’s one of the most respected people on the planet in terms of researching the marine world, and with all of the current focus on fish stocks and the human impact on the health of our oceans, Daniel will offer great insight into the discussion. This is at the heart of the annual Haig-Brown Lecture.”
Pauly says his message is that fisheries and fish populations are in trouble, but he isn’t coming to town to either yell doom and gloom from a soapbox or espouse optimism that things can change if only we take action. It’s not an “optimism” or “pessimism” kind of exploration, Pauly says, just one of science-based facts and data.
“The issue at hand is not one of style or psychology (optimist or pessimist), but one of correct diagnosis and identifying what can and should be done by whom,” Pauly says. “Whether they will be done is something that I can’t know. Churchill, in June 1940, did not answer the question whether he was an optimist or pessimist, but whether Britain should fight or surrender.
“I would like people to walk away (from the evening) with an understanding that fisheries issues are similar to other issues that humanhind faces in that we expect natural resources – water, soils, minerals, biodoversity, air, etc. – to supply the increasing demand from our increasing numbers forever.”
After the talk, guests will be treated to a special screening of the documentary An Ocean Mystery: The Missing Catch, a film that follows Pauly as he investigates tracking of data from fisheries in various locations around the world. The film was co-produced by the Living Oceans Foundation and the Smithsonian Channel and explores how bad and incomplete data masks how close the world is to doing irreparable harm to its fish stocks as Pauly and his team spend 15 years investigating global fishing practices.
It has been nominated and awarded many laurels from various international film festivals, including winning the Green Spark Award at the 2017 American Conservation Film Festival and being named Best Conservation Film at the 2017 International Ocean Film Festival in San Francisco.
Tickets for the night are only $15 (plus applicable taxes and fees) and are available at the Tidemark box office or online at tidemarktheatre.com
For a sample of Pauly’s energy and passion, check out his TED talk, entitled “The Ocean’s Shifting Baseline.”