Collecting Scientific Information

Scientific information about environmental conditions and understanding of ecosystem processes are essential for management of the river's resources. The utilization of this information generally proceeds through a two-step process: a "characterization phase" that involves the collection of new information describing the problem or particular portion of the system that requires protection, and an "interpretation phase" that places the information in the context of the present

Figure 22.1. Annual support for monitoring, impact assessment, and resource inventories by funding sources: 1990-2000. (The data contained in this figure and Figure 22.2 were obtained from 39 individuals representing 25 different organizations. In addition, data from the National Science Foundation were obtained from its website.)

Figure 22.1. Annual support for monitoring, impact assessment, and resource inventories by funding sources: 1990-2000. (The data contained in this figure and Figure 22.2 were obtained from 39 individuals representing 25 different organizations. In addition, data from the National Science Foundation were obtained from its website.)

understanding of natural processes. Moreover, for impact assessment, managers must evaluate how the proposed human action will affect those processes.

Government agencies and regulated parties routinely spend considerable funds in the characterization phase, collecting and managing technical data about the river and estuary. Between 1990 and 2000, approximately $117 million was directed to data collection in connection with monitoring programs, impact assessments, and resource inventories (Fig. 22.1). State and Federal agencies funded about 64 percent of that amount. New York City spent nearly $19 million, half of which was devoted to its Annual Harbor Survey that started in 1909 with the Metropolitan Sewerage Commission.

Managers generally rely on existing scientific literature and experience of their technical staffs for current understandings of ecosystem processes. They sometimes discover that there are serious deficiencies in the understanding of these processes, however, rarely do managers sponsor research to fill needed gaps in that understanding. Many are constrained within their institutional authority to even consider research as a management tool. Regulatory programs typically limit most assessments to narrowly defined short-term objectives. After digesting years of scientific and legal debate in connection with the Hudson River Power

Case, Barnthouse, Klauda, and Vaughn (1988) concluded that long-term monitoring and research were clearly needed to improve future assessments, but these efforts require funding and management independent of the regulatoryprocess. Since settlement of the power case in the early 1980s, more than $41 million has been invested in research about the river and estuary (Fig. 22.2). Only very mod-estfundingwasprovidedbymanagement agencies. More than half of the research funding emanated from the Hudson River Foundation.

Broader planning programs like HEP and HREMP have recognized the importance of new research being incorporated into their planning and implementation efforts. In fact, one of the first initiatives of HREMP was to outline a science program that would support better and more effective management of the Hudson River Estuary. After several meetings with both managers and the research community, a Science/Management Paradigm was developed (Schubel, 1992). The elements of the paradigm include research, modeling, monitoring, synthesis, education, outreach, and partnerships between scientists and resource managers. It recognizes that managers need information, not simply data, to make decisions. Data may be derived from monitoring programs, research projects, or both, depending on the nature of the problem being addressed. Data collected through research and monitoring efforts can thenbe interpreted and synthesized into information that can be used in decision making. To sustain the paradigm, scientists, managers, and the public should form ongoing

Figure 22.2. Annual support for research by funding sources: 1983 through 2000.

partnerships, andaneducationprogramshouldbe established to enhance public understanding. The paradigm was envisioned to be funded through a large endowment of approximately $100 million.

Inasmuch as securing an endowment of $100 million was highly unlikely, it soon became apparent that the "paradigm" was unrealistic as originally contemplated. Developing a single comprehensive research and monitoring program to address the many problems plaguing the Hudson was far too ambitious (Suszkowski and Schubel, 1994). However, the paradigm did provide a model whose components deserved further examination and application on a smaller scale, and the Hudson River Foundation subsequently used these concepts to develop a special research initiative concerning Atlantic sturgeon.

In the late 1980s, commercial fishermen in the river observed that they were capturing fewer small sturgeon as incidental catches in their gill nets, which was corroborated by other fish surveys conducted in the river. Although the reasons for this remained unknown, it was starkly evident that there would be fewer sturgeon available to commercial fishermen in future years. At the same time, commercial fishing for the Atlantic sturgeon stock had increased dramatically, particularly in ocean waters offshore of New Jersey (Waldman, Hart, and Wirgin, 1996).

In response to a growing recognition that the Atlantic sturgeon population of the Hudson River might be in trouble, the Hudson River Foundation convened a workshop, inviting noted sturgeon research scientists and fishery managers to discuss potential courses of action. The workshop concluded that key scientific information was lacking about the reproductive condition of the fish, the size of the Hudson River population, and movement patterns of the sturgeon. This information was deemed critical to the management of the stock.

After establishing sturgeon as a "special interest area" in the Foundation's 1993 call for proposals, several research projects were funded to ascertain the health of the stock at an initial investment of approximately $700,000. The research soon confirmed the hypotheses that there were dwindling numbers of Atlantic sturgeon and that the overall Hudson River population was very small.

The reproductive condition of the sturgeon was found to be healthy, and was not a cause of the stock's decline. Modeling analyses performed by New York State biologists, working in concert with the Foundation-sponsored investigators and using their research findings, demonstrated that the sturgeon stock could not withstand a fishing pressure sufficient for an economically viable fishery.

Amoratorium on the harvesting of Hudson River Atlantic sturgeon was enacted in New York based upon the research and modeling. A subsequent moratorium was also enacted in New Jersey following legislative hearings in which the results of the Foundation's sponsored research were presented. Commercial fishing will be unlikely to resume for several decades while sturgeon stock rebuilds itself to a sustainable population. In the meantime, New York State is supporting a monitoring program to complement the Foundation's research by watching the progress in sturgeon recruitment. This monitoringwillbe the important ingredient to successful management of this species in the future.

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