[Coral-List] conflict of interest

Magnus Johnson m.johnson at hull.ac.uk
Tue May 17 07:26:24 EDT 2016

Incapable of tackling the science, Greenpeace appear to be attempting to discredit one of the most world's most respected fisheries scientists.  Ray's response is here:


-----Original Message-----
From: John Hocevar [mailto:jhocevar at greenpeace.org] 
Sent: 16 May 2016 17:51
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] conflict of interest

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 <https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2829811-Hilborn-Complaint-Letter-Final.html>
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 <https://www.openchannels.org/chat/online-debate-large-no-take-areas-their-total-environmental-impact-positive-or-negative>
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 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ray-hilborn-funding_us_57365012e4b077d4d6f33238>. 
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 thoughts.

John Hocevar
Oceans Campaign Director
Greenpeace USA

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