Lenfest Ocean Program

Supporting Science and Communicating Results

Research Projects

The Lenfest Ocean Program supports marine research that informs policy decisions about the marine environment. Program staff consult with scientists, stakeholders, and decision makers to identify policy-relevant research questions and develop research projects. We do not accept unsolicited proposals.

The Lenfest Ocean Program focuses on the environmental, economic, and social impacts of fishing, fisheries management, and aquaculture.

All Projects

Developing Recommendations to Estimate Bycatch for the Marine Mammal Protection Act Import Provisions
Dr. André Punt of the University of Washington (UW) and as part of the UW’s Ocean Modeling Forum with developing scientific tools to evaluate data sets and methods for determining bycatch rates for marine mammal populations.

An Analysis of Marine Protected Areas in China
Dr. Ellen Pikitch of Stony Brook University and Dr. Guifang Julia Xue of Shanghai Jiao Tong University will conduct the first comprehensive assessment of China’s various types of MPAs networks across the country to help guide future designations and implementation.

Assessing Inclusive Ocean Wealth in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands
Joshua Abbott, Ph.D., an economist at Arizona State University (ASU), is integrating ecological dynamics and economic valuation in a model to create an indicator of these combined values, known as “inclusive ocean wealth.”

Benchmarks for Ecosystem Assessment
Principal investigators Beth Fulton, Ph.D., and Keith Sainsbury, Ph.D., will work with a research team to examine specific, science-based indicators of ecosystem structure and function and develop references points or ranges for a variety of ecosystem types.

Developing an Empirical Dynamic Framework for Gulf Menhaden
To develop a new mathematical model to predict more accurately the total population size of Gulf menhaden to assist fishery managers to set sustainable catch levels.

Model-Free Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management
To further develop an innovative method to forecast fish abundance, known as empirical dynamic modeling, or EDM.

Lenfest Fisheries Ecosystem Task Force
To convene an expert task force which will develop a blueprint for how to implement ecosystem based fisheries management by outlining specific tools, approaches, and frameworks to foster the adoption of ecosystem principles and practices in fishery ecosystem plans.

Modeling Ecology and Economics for Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management in the Gulf of Mexico
To develop a combined ecological-economic model to improve ecosystem-based fisheries management recommendations in the Gulf of Mexico commercial and recreational reef fish fishery.

Ecosystem Effects of Invertebrate Fisheries
To determine the direct and indirect effects that invertebrate fisheries have in marine ecosystems around the world.

Developing Models for Marine Fisheries Bycatch Avoidance
To develop an online tool that predicts the locations of two imperiled marine fish species for the purpose of avoiding them as bycatch.

The Importance of Marine Fisheries and Ecosystems for Food Security in China
To unite Chinese scientists with Western scientists at a symposium in Beijing to explore the importance of marine fisheries and ecosystems for food security in China.

Identifying High Risk Fisheries for Sea Turtle Bycatch
To identify the source populations for sea turtles killed incidentally as bycatch in global commercial fisheries.

Developing Ecosystem Based Reference Points for Atlantic Menhaden
To develop and evaluate candidate ecosystem-based reference points for the Atlantic menhaden fishery.

Developing Ecosystem Based Management Metrics for Forage Fish Using Jellyfish
To demonstrate how jellyfish may be used as an indicator of forage fish and marine ecosystem health.

Evaluation of the Historic Role of Forage Fish in Lost Fisheries Production
To evaluate the ecosystem impacts of restoring forage fish populations in New England to historical levels.

Deep Sea Forage Species and Commercial Linkages in the North Atlantic
To understand the role of deep sea forage fish as prey for commercial fishes and marine mammals in the North Atlantic.

Evaluating the Impact of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) on Tunas in the Pacific Ocean
To investigate the impacts of fish aggregating devices on the movement, distribution, health, diet and reproductive potential of tunas in the Pacific Ocean.

Calculating Sustainable Catch Limits for Data Poor European Fisheries
To develop a method to estimate fisheries reference points for setting sustainable catch levels for data-poor fisheries.

Science to Support Pelagic Conservation in the Open Ocean
To identify high productivity and high biodiversity areas in the open ocean to inform international decision making.

Global Shark Abundance Baselines
To reconstruct shark populations in order to understand their role in marine ecosystems, quantify the population declines and identify how marine ecosystems changed when sharks were removed.

Accounting for the Role of Big Fish in the Ocean
To investigate the role that body size plays in the resiliency of fish communities and develop management recommendations for fisheries that often target the largest individuals in a population.

IUCN Red List Assessments for Tuna and Billfish
To provide support to the Global Marine Species Assessment to evaluate more than 20,000 marine species for inclusion on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Assessing the Long Term Effects of Deep Sea Trawling in the Northeast Atlantic
To investigate the recovery of deep-sea habitats in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean following a closure to bottom trawl fishing eight years ago.

Establishing Sustainable Catch Limits for Protected Marine Species
To create a suite of analytical tools to estimate sustainable removal limits for data-poor species, such as sharks, turtles and seabirds that are caught in the course of fishing operations.

Bycatch and Discards in Regional Fisheries Management Organizations RFMO
To determine the state of international governance of bycatch and discards in marine capture fisheries.

Effects of Longline Fishing on Seamount Ecosystems
To evaluate whether pelagic longline fishing at seamounts results in higher catch levels of target and protected species relative to fishing at non-seamount locations.

Pelagic Seabird Conservation
To identify ocean foraging habitats of seabirds worldwide, investigate the relationship of these areas with oceanographic conditions and evaluate overlap with longline fisheries.

The Role of Fisheries in Seabird Communities
To assess the role of fisheries in influencing seabird population levels and community ecology.

Protecting Antarctica's Ross Sea
To evaluate the Antarctic toothfish populations in the Ross Sea, provide guidance on future monitoring and offer management recommendations to maintain a sustainable ecosystem.

Accounting for Predators in the Peruvian Anchovy Fishery
To develop an ecosystem model of the Peruvian anchovy fishery which evaluates the impacts of fisheries management decisions on predators, prey and Humboldt upwelling ecosystem.

Evaluating the Status of Understudied Fish Species
To evaluate in several regions of the United States the status of understudied fish and other marine species that are impacted by the commercial fishing industry.

Protecting the Deep Sea
To scientifically evaluate the actions taken to adhere to the UN General Assembly resolution to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems.

Setting Incidental Take Limits for Marine Turtles in US Fisheries
To develop a scientific method for evaluating the cumulative impacts of marine fisheries on sea turtles and for establishing science-based sustainable catch limits under the Endangered Species Act.

Identifying Coral Reefs of Hope
To predict how coral reefs around the world will respond to warming temperatures and determine which reefs have the best chance of surviving in order to prioritize conservation efforts.

The Socio-economics of the Patagonian Sea
To build an economic model to investigate the industries that have the largest detrimental impact on the Patagonian Sea and recommend management actions to address the threats.

An Ecologically Based Global Aquaculture Performance Index GAPI
To establish a performance index for aquaculture farms that measures the sustainability of the global industry across a range of environmental indicators.

Interactions Between Leatherback Turtles and Fisheries in the Pacific Ocean
To determine the relationship between Pacific leatherback sea turtle migrations and oceanographic conditions and to assess the geographic overlap with commercial fisheries.

Simplifying Fisheries Management
To provide a concrete test of the utility of age structure metrics in fisheries management

Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force
To establish the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force that will develop and recommend ecosystem-based standards for the sustainable management of forage fisheries.

Assessing the Status of Atlantic and Pacific Tuna Populations
To improve the scientific methodology for assessing the status of tuna populations in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Evaluating Alternatives to Destructive Gillnet Fishing
To evaluate whether new gillnet fishing gears can reduce marine mammal, sea turtle and seabird incidental catch,while maintaining high target fish catch.

Evaluating the Impacts of Antibiotic Use in Chilean Salmon Aquaculture
To evaluate the impact that antibiotics used in salmon aquaculture farms in Chile have on the surrounding marine environment and human health.

Establishing Science-based Shark Catch Limits
To convene a workshop of international shark experts to develop a methodology for how to set sustainable management targets for shark populations when data is limited.

Protecting Nassau Grouper Spawning Sites
To evaluate whether the protection of historic Nassau grouper spawning site locations from fishing pressure will help recover these endangered populations.

Strengthening Deep Sea Fishing Protections
To review FAO draft guidelines on the definitions of deep sea “vulnerable marine ecosystems” in relationship to bottom fishing activities on the high seas.

Evaluating Uncertainty in New England Herring Management
To develop a model of the Atlantic herring population in New England that will determine whether the scientific uncertainties about the structure of fish’s population will impact management options.

Review of Draft Government Guidance on Fishery Data Collection Methods
To conduct an independent scientific review of the federal government’s methods to determine how much observer coverage is needed on fishing boats to assess target and unwanted catch.

Fisheries Management on Smaller Spatial Scales
To evaluate whether groundfish fisheries on the west coast of the United States could be managed at smaller spatial scales in order to improve fisheries management.

Quantifying the Ecological Effects of Dedicated Access Fisheries Programs
To analyze global dedicated access fisheries in order to determine whether they lead to improved ecological conditions and to identify what attributes result in positive impacts.

Evaluating the Decline of Sharks in the Mediterranean
To assess the magnitude of shark declines in the Mediterranean and to evaluate both the status of current populations and the ecological consequences of the loss of Mediterranean shark predators.

Establishing the Scientific Basis for Recovery of Western Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
To assess the magnitude of shark declines in the Mediterranean and to evaluate both the status of current populations and the ecological consequences of the loss of Mediterranean shark predators.

Examining the Impacts of Whales on Commercial Fisheries
To examine the scientific evidence for the assertion that commercial fisheries are negatively impacted by food consumption by whales, focusing on the Caribbean and northwest Africa.

Implementing Effective Fisheries Management Practices in the United States
To convene two working groups to identify fisheries best management practices in order to inform development of regulations implementing the new Magnuson Stevens Fisheries Conservation Act.

Assessing Productivity and Susceptibility
To determine a fish population’s risk from overfishing by assessing its biological vulnerability and management uncertainty.

Reconstructing Fishery Catches in the Alaskan Arctic
To reconstruct the historic fisheries catch in arctic Alaska from 1950 to the present to determine past and present fisheries catch levels.

Global Status of Open Ocean Sharks
To hold a scientific workshop to assess the global status of pelagic sharks.

The History of Whale Populations Before Whaling
To uncover the population history of whales before whaling and compare the genetic record with written historical records and demographic models in order to determine future management.

Competition Between Catch of Forage Fish for Fishmeal and Human Consumption
To assess the amount of competition between catch of small forage fish for direct human consumption and for reduction into fishmeal and fish oil for use as aquaculture and agriculture feed.

Effects of Aquaculture Pens on Coastal Water Quality
To develop a computer simulation tool that can predict where, and in what concentrations, the dissolved waste from aquaculture fish pens will move in the marine environment.

Fisheries Enforcement in the U.S.
To evaluate the effectiveness of fisheries enforcement and compliance in the United States and identify options for improving the system.

Fisheries Subsidies in the United States
To quantify the amount of government subsidies given to the U.S. fishing industry on a regional level, and evaluate their contribution to overfishing, habitat disruption and conservation.

Effective Shark Finning Measurement Methodologies
To convene a scientific workshop on measurement methodologies used to regulate shark finning in Europe.

Ecological Management of Kelp Forests in Oregon and Washington
To provide a review of the ecology of the two types of kelp along the West coast of North America, address the current and future human uses, and discuss approaches to managing these resources.

Lobster Life Cycle Assessment
To evaluate and compare the environmental impacts and management systems of American lobster fisheries in Maine and Nova Scotia, Canada.

The Lenfest Trophic Cascades Project
To examine the global implications on marine ecosystems from the loss of top predators due to overfishing.

The Footprint of Global Fish Trade Project
To develop a global database of seafood imports by country in order to better estimate the ecosystem impacts of the increasing worldwide demand for fish products.

Implementing Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management
To develop and compare a set of modeling approaches to help make ecosystem-based fisheries management practical to implement in the United States.

Sustainability of Deep Sea Fisheries
To convene a group of leading scientists to analyze past, current and future deep sea fisheries to determine whether this type of fishing is ecologically sustainable.

The Impact of Krill Loss on Antarctic Penguins
To evaluate the relationship over the past 30 years between krill abundance and penguin reproduction and survival on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Life Cycle Analyses of Salmon Fishing and Aquaculture
To calculate the life cycle of environmental and socio-economic impacts associated with salmon fisheries and aquaculture in the Northeast Pacific Ocean.

The Lenfest Ocean Futures Project
To develop an interactive computer program with high quality graphics that will demonstrate the ecological and economic impacts of fisheries management decisions.

A Peer Review of Pelagic Longline Circle Hook Experiments
To conduct a peer review of pelagic longline circle hook experiments in the Northwestern Atlantic, Azores, Ecuador and Gulf of Mexico.

The Implications of Climate Change for Antarctic Krill, Whales, and Penguins
To evaluate the impacts on Antarctic whales and penguins of the potential reduction in krill due to climate change and the implications for krill fishery management.

Reconstructing the Historic Abundance of Ocean Life
To historically reconstruct past marine life abundance in six estuaries and coastal bays in the United States.

Re-Inventing Reef Fisheries Management in the U.S. Carribean
To convene a workshop and produce a publication exploring new approaches for stakeholder involvement and ecosystem-based management of reef fisheries in the U.S. Caribbean.

Marine Recreational Fishing Catch by Sector
To assess the relative contribution of different fishing sectors to the total saltwater recreational catch of overfished and depleted fish species in U.S. waters.

Evaluating the Status of Understudied Fish Species
To evaluate in several regions of the United States the status of understudied fish and other marine species that are impacted by the commercial fishing industry.

Lenfest Marine Extinction Project
To document how the abundance and distribution of marine species have changed in response to fishing and habitat alteration over the past 50 to 100 years, and to predict future changes.

Rebuilding Plans for Overfished Species
To review the rebuilding efforts of U.S. federally managed fisheries and evaluate what needs to be changed in order to more effectively rebuild depleted fisheries.

Developing Recommendations to Estimate Bycatch for the Marine Mammal Protection Act Import Provisions
To evaluate data sets and methods for determining bycatch rates for marine mammal populations.