National Marine Fisheries Service

Oct 022015

Progress and Problems: Government Scientists Report on Scientific Integrity
at Four Agencies
reveals results of survey of 7,000 scientists

NOAA numbers not as bad, but concern remains

Politics plays too big a role in decisionmaking at the Fish and Wildlife Service, a new survey from the Union of Concerned Scientists concludes. | Download the full report

"Many scientists felt that too much consideration was given to political interests at their agencies," said the report, based on surveys of employees at four different agencies: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, FWS and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"This was particularly true at the FWS, where 73 percent of respondents reported the level of consideration of political interests was 'too high', " the report said. "FWS respondents also noted that interference can come from the legacy of previous administrations affecting current work."

"One [FWS] respondent noted, 'Ultimately, the USFWS would be improved the most if we could make decisions based solely on the science, instead of having to balance those decisions with politics.' Another respondent inferred the motive accounting for such political influence:

“It is my perception that upper-level managers are influenced by fear of Congress dismantling the Endangered Species Act and/or otherwise interfering with the mission of the service. This affects their ability to appropriately support the scientific integrity of the very conscientious scientific staff whose work is supposed to support the managers’ decision making.”

Regarding NOAA, the report said, "Compared with 2005, when UCS surveyed scientists working at NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the agency appears to have vastly improved in terms of perceived agency effectiveness and adherence to scientific integrity principles. Aside from these improvements, some issues remain, including barriers to scientists publishing their work and communicating to the media and public. NOAA scientists also indicated that the overuse of contractors was having a negative impact on agency morale and productivity."

Also from the report:

"Similar to other agencies, NOAA scientists reported too much weight being given to political interests (56 percent, 973 respondents). When asked what could improve scientific integrity at NOAA, several scientists focused on ways the agency should address this issue. One respondent wrote, 'Remove all political agendas and influence by those without expertise in a designated field of study.' Another respondent wrote, 'Stop giving in to political and industry pressure when making scientific decisions!' Another put it this way: 'No single entity unduly influences the agency but the combination of NGOs, industry, Congress, OMB, and Commerce results in watering and wearing down and splintering of the agency’s efforts.' "

Gretchen Goldman, lead analyst for UCS's Center for Science and Democracy, said that "the new survey results offer a treasure trove of information." From the results, she concluded that "scientific integrity has certainly improved in recent years but much work is still needed to fully implement the relatively new scientific integrity policies and change agency cultures.

"For example, a significant number of scientists are still unaware that their agency has a scientific integrity policy, despite the policies being in place for three years (1,489 respondents across agencies). Of those that were aware, some respondents didn’t think their agency adhered to the policy (227 respondents across agencies). These results suggest we have more work to do."

According to the report, "Of respondents who reported awareness of the scientific integrity policy, 50 to 66 percent believed their agencies adhere to this policy, with 66 percent of CDC scientists (643 respondents) at the high end and 50 percent of FWS scientists (345 respondents) at the low end."

NOAA releases climate science strategy

 Posted by on August 25, 2015
Aug 252015

The National Marine Fisheries Service, also known as NOAA Fisheries, has released its first climate science strategy, which says that "without adequately incorporating climate change, NOAA Fisheries conservation and management efforts are likely to be ineffective, produce negative results, or miss opportunities."

Press release  ||  Full report

The strategy "identifies seven key steps to increase production, delivery, and use of climate-related information to support the management of fish stocks, fisheries, and protected species," NMFS said. "The steps focus on how a changing climate affects living marine resources, ecosystems, and the communities that depend on them, and how to respond to those changes."


Jun 152015

For more Federal Register notices on the ESA and National Environmental Policy Act, go to http://www.eswr.com/fr-today The Fish and Wildlife Service has begun a “scoping period” on an Environmental Impact Statement that will examine a plan to issue Incidental Take Permits under a Midwest Wind Energy MultiSpecies Habitat Conservation Plan that is being prepared. The […]

Jun 022015

Afternoon update: A coalition of environmental groups has filed a lawsuit (technically, a petition for review) in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s approval of Shell’s exploration plan for the Chukchi Sea (Alaska Wilderness League v. Jewell). Scroll down for the petition. Here is the press release. * […]

Apr 012015
Judge criticizes Navy training exercises in Pacific

We’ll have more later, but Center for Biological Diversity announced a decision from the federal court on Hawaii about the impact of Navy training exercises on “whales, dolphins, other marine mammals and imperiled sea turtles.” CBD’s  press release is below. Court Rules Navy Training in Pacific Violates Laws Meant to Protect Whales, Sea Turtles Federal Judge […]

Mar 062015

See our Federal Register page for more   (and scroll down for the coral recovery plan links) On Public Inspection today FWS releases final recovery plan for the four subspecies of island fox (Urocyon littoralis). Each of the four subspecies, San Miguel Island fox (Urocyon littoralis littoralis), Santa Rosa Island fox (U. l. santarosae), Santa Cruz […]

Mar 062015

Here’s the release from NMFS (3/6/15): NOAA Fisheries seeks public input on environmental analysis of proposed Makah whale hunt NOAA Fisheries is inviting public comments on a new Draft Environmental ImpactStatement (DEIS) that evaluates the Makah Tribe’s request to resume treaty-based hunting of eastern North Pacific gray whales for ceremonial and subsistence purposes. The Makah […]

Feb 182015

The Ninth Circuit affirmed a district court decision that upheld the Forest Service’s approval of a small fuels treatment/commercial timber harvest project on the Umatilla National Forest (The Lands Council v. U.S. Forest Service, 14-35176). (South George Vegetation and Fuels Management Project) The brief, unpublished decision rejected claims brought under the National Forest Management Act […]

Feb 172015
Negative 90-day finding issued on yellowtail damselfish petition

All FR notices, this year Update: The NMFS staffer referred to below got back to me: “Thank you Steve, I am trying to get it fixed now. I will pass along your suggestion on emails.” Thank you! My admiration for the men and women in the civil service just went up a notch. Just a […]