MREP bridging trust gaps between fishermen, scientists and regulators

mrep2In most coastal areas of the United States where fishing is a significant part of the economy, it’s taken for granted that fishermen and regulators don’t think fondly of each other. Fishermen are convinced regulators don’t know what they’re doing. Regulators are frustrated that fishermen don’t put much stock in their scientific assessments. This mistrust has real consequences. Fishermen begrudge – and sometimes flaunt – regulatory decisions. Regulators come off as vengeful or pedantic. Meetings between the two parties devolve into shouting matches. Scientific conclusions get ignored or flaunted, and opportunities for improving the accuracy of stock estimates through greater participation are lost amidst the acrimony. About 15 years ago, two members of the New England fishing industry, John Williamson and Mary Beth Tooley, created the Marine Resource Education Program (MREP) with the goal of initiating a more positive era of fisher-regulator relations. Read the story here, two pages 21:09