Past Projects

SEP: Sustainability of Tidal Energy, 2012 to 2016

Tidal hydrokinetic energy is the energy in the currents associated with the rise and fall of ocean tides. Interest in tidal energy development is driven by three aspects of the resource: it is renewable, predictable, and concentrated. Devices capable of harnessing this resource (i.e., tidal turbines) are nearing commercial readiness and much has been learned from individual pilot projects. However, a renewable resource is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for sustainable power generation. Sustainable power generation must be technically, economically, socially, and environmentally viable. The tools to assess large-scale, sustainable utilization of tidal energy are underdeveloped, and a comprehensive synthesis of pilot project results have not been completed. This project used the Puget Sound as a case study. The researchers developed scenarios for large-scale electricity generation from tidal currents in order to balance the benefits of predictable, renewable power generation against engineering feasibility, environmental compatibility, and social acceptance. The PI for this project was Brian Polagye and the co-PIs were Alberto Aliseda, John Horne, Mitsuhiro Kawase, and Kiki Jenkins. Dr. Jenkins served as the social science lead for the project. Specifically, the social science component of the project examined public values and perceptions of tidal energy and also explored the potential for anticipatory governance of tidal energy. The project was funded by a National Science Foundation Sustainable Energy Pathways grant.

Fisher Learning Exchanges for Conservation: An Examination of Lessons Learned (FLExCELL), 2013

Overfishing, a leading social-ecological problem in the marine realm, has modified ecosystem functioning and is jeopardizing the wellbeing of the billion people that depend on seafood as their primary source of protein. Over the past decade, fisher learning exchanges, in which representatives from different fisher communities are brought together to share knowledge, have become a key tool in improving fisheries management. Fisher exchanges are regarded as effective by both organizers and participants for a) sharing fisheries challenges and solutions (both between and within fleets); b) empowering fisher leaders; c) creating communities of practice and building social capital; and d) in developing conservation solutions. No comparative analysis of the effectiveness of fisher learning exchanges has been made to date, despite the large investments in them by NGOs and federal agencies, including NOAA Fisheries, The Nature Conservancy, and Environmental Defense Fund. Given the urgency of fishery management challenges plus ever scarcer conservation and fisheries management resources, Dr. Jenkins and  Dr. Hoyt Peckham organized an interdisciplinary workshop to begin to objectively assess the effectiveness of fisher exchanges and to identify key attributes that can enhance the success of fisher learning exchanges, using methods, including focus groups, interviews, and reflexive discourses. The workshop was supported by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC). Dr. Jenkins, Katie Thompson, Dr. Peckham, and other collaborators have subsequently completed a second phase of this project that used case studies in Mexico, Madagascar, and Mozambique to elucidate best practices for designing and conducting fisheries learning exchanges.

Fisheries Catch Reconstructions for the West Coast of the United States, 2012 to 2013

Fisheries management decisions often depend on models of the effects of fishing on marine ecosystems. These models are frequently based on the fisheries catch statistics reported to the Food and Agriculture Organization. But often these numbers only account for a portion of the fish removed from the oceans. Commonly unreported sources of fish removal can include recreational catch, catch by indigenous people, subsistence catch, and discards. In order improve the information available for management decisions, Dr. Jenkins and research assistant, Haley Harguth used historic data dating back to 1950 to build a more comprehensive picture of past marine fisheries catches in the waters off the coast of Washington, Oregon, and California. This project, partial-funded by the Sea Around Us Project, is part of their larger effort to complete catch reconstructions for every marine fishing nation.

International Adoption of Conservation Technologies (IntACT): Towards a New Theory of Transferring Technology in the Face of Conservation Crisis, 2010 to 2014

The United States has become a leader in inventing marine conservation technologies to protect marine organisms and habitat. Congress has passed a number of laws requiring that foreign fishers use marine conservation technologies if they want to sell fish in the United States. Unfortunately, programs to promote the international use of marine conservation technologies have had mixed results. The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded this three-year project co-led by Dr. Jenkins and Patrick Christie to explore the key factors related to successful cross-cultural promotion of marine conservation technologies. Specifically, the research team worked in Costa Rica and Ecuador to investigate the international promotion of two methods for protecting sea turtles. One is the use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) to reduce the mortality of sea turtles in shrimp trawls. The other is the use of circle hooks to reduce incidental capture of sea turtles in longline fishing gear.
Catch a glimpse of Dr. Jenkins’ blog posts about this project for the New York Times’ section, “Scientist at Work: Notes from the Field”:

Gear Conversion as a Means to Reduce Bycatch and Habitat Impacts in the U.S. West Coast Sablefish Fishery, 2008

Bycatch and habitat damage are two of the major problems facing fisheries. Changing the type of fishing gear used can be an effective way to mitigate these problems. However, current fishing regulations often prohibit fishers from changing the type of gear they use to catch a certain fish unless they purchase an additional-­ often costly–permit. This study examined the socio-cultural feasibility and ecological impacts of gear substitute as a means to reduce bycatch and habitat impacts of fisheries. The focus of the research was the U.S. west coast sablefish fishery, because this fishery uses three different gear types-bottom trawls, bottom longlines, and fish pots-with no interchangeability between gear types. The study found that bycatch rates were highest in trawls and lowest in pots. Combining interview data with findings from a previous study, affirmed that habitat impacts were highest with trawls and lowest with longlines. Interviews yielded several common themes in the opinions of gear substitution. Positive opinion themes included that it would allow better management of the fish populations by reducing bycatch and would allow more business options, flexibility, and increased profit for some trawlers. The main negative opinion theme was that gear substitution could decrease landings needed to support shoreside infrastructure. Most stakeholder groups saw some benefit in gear substitution. Notably, the trawlers voiced a unanimous preference for converting to pots rather than longlines. A scenario analysis revealed that the preferable management  option would be long-term gear conversion,  but incentives are likely to be an important means of encouraging gear conversion. This study provided a regional assessment of bycatch and habitat impacts that had never been conducted before for these gear types. It also provided scientific support and partial-impetus for a regulatory change that went into effect in 2011 and that legally allows trawlers to practice gear substitution.

The Invention and Adoption of Conservation Technology to Successfully Reduce the Bycatch of Protected Marine Species, Dissertation, 2002-2006

To address problems such as bycatch, policy-makers are increasingly  employing  conservation  technology, a management method that uses a device to protect organisms and/or habitat. Despite the increasing use of conservation technologies, the process of their invention and development remains poorly understood and problematic. Also, historically there have been difficulties with ensuring widespread, long-term, and proper use of conservation technologies. Dr. Jenkins’ dissertation sought to answer the question of how best to successfully invent conservation technologies  and secure their widespread, long-term adoption by examining two case studies:
  1. The use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) to reduce the mortality of sea turtles in shrimp trawls in the U.S. shrimp fishery.
  2. The use of various conservation technologies to reduce the mortality of dolphins in the U.S. Eastern Tropical Pacific tuna purse-seine fishery.
Dr. Jenkins’ thesis concluded that:
  1. development of conservation technologies occurs in and ought not be divorced from a social context;
  2. the most widely adopted conservation technologies have been conceived, invented, or modified by fishers;
  3. participants in the invention network often fail to recognize the expertise of fishers, and thus fishers are marginalized in the invention network;
  4. both Sea Grant and the National Marine Fisheries Service used technology transfer methods that promoted conservation technologies awareness but not wide-spread adoption;
  5. some policy-makers and managers erroneously believed that a legislative mandate negates the need for individual adoption decisions;
  6. enforcement is not a substitute for nor can it assure true adoption;
  7. diffusion theory would be a more appropriate model than technology transfer to encourage wide-spread adoption; and
  8. adoption of conservation technologies is most likely when a commercially practical conservation technology is promoted with persuasive and informative extension activities and regulations are enforced.