[Coral-List] conflict of interest

John Hocevar jhocevar at greenpeace.org
Mon May 16 12:51:10 EDT 2016

Hi -

After seeing the discussion about Gene's question whether reef 
scientists benefit from climate change, I thought some of you might be 
interested in a related debate unfolding now. On Thursday, Greenpeace 
revealed <http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/research/overfishing-denier> 
that Ray Hilborn, a prominent UW fisheries biologist, had taken $3.56 
million from industry, and often failed to disclose these conflicts of 
interest appropriately. We sent this letter 
to UW outlining our findings, including several specific examples where 
it seemed that direct conflicts had not been disclosed in apparent 
violation of journal policies.

This is clearly quite a bit different than reef scientists working to 
understand and address the most significant threat to the survival of 
coral reefs. I bring this up here as contrast, but also because MPAs are 
one of the most tools we have to increase the resiliency of reef 
ecosystems and give them a chance of surviving the rapid changes they 
are experiencing. Dr. Hilborn has frequently argued against MPAs in 
recent years, as in this debate 
with Callum Roberts, and has been vocal in his criticism of marine 
conservation efforts. As has become clear through conversations with 
scientists over the past few days, many people who were understandably 
frustrated with Hilborn's role in debates around the California Marine 
Life Protection Act, or reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 
were unaware of the extent of his industry ties.

Media coverage has been fairly balanced so far, with strong coverage in 
Le Monde, Der Spiegel, NZ Herald, AP, NPR, Seattle Times, and the 
Huffington Post 
UW, several scientific journals, the NY Times (which published an Op-Ed 
by Hilborn), and several funders are looking into this matter now and 
considering next steps. There has been a lively (ahem) conversation 
about this controversy on social media, and I encourage you to add your 

John Hocevar
Oceans Campaign Director
Greenpeace USA

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