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Improving Public Policy
Study shows gaps in monitoring of fishing in the Pacific Ocean
In September, Pew released a study on transshipment—the transfer of fish between fishing vessels and refrigerated cargo ships, at sea or in port—taking place in the western and central Pacific Ocean, operations worth $142 million in that region each year. The study found at least 140 ships operated in a manner consistent with transshipment activity during 2016, but only 25 of them submitted required high seas transshipment reports, illustrating the lack of detailed information available on most of the transshipment activities in the region. Pew’s research combined commercially available satellite imagery and automatic identification system data with machine learning technology to analyze the movements of the carrier vessels. The findings showed the significant gaps in reporting, monitoring, and data sharing, meaning it’s likely that more at-sea transshipment occurs than is reported.
South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to protect snapper and grouper
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved a new rule in September to protect 55 species of snapper and grouper that are caught when they are too small, out of season, or exceed a catch limit and have to be released. When pulled swiftly from the ocean, these deep-dwelling fish often die from barotrauma, a condition similar to “the bends” that affects scuba divers who ascend too rapidly. The new rule requires fishermen to carry a device to help fish survive catch and release. The high death rates of some South Atlantic species, such as red snapper, hurt the overall health of fish populations. Reusable, weighted descending devices automatically return fish to the depths, where they can swim away unharmed. Use of the devices may allow hundreds of thousands more fish to survive and reproduce each year. Pew worked with fishery managers, scientists, and recreational and commercial fishing leaders to win approval of the measure.
Canada partners with Inuit on Arctic marine protected areas
Canada announced the formal exploration of creating two marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Arctic. In late August, the shallow waters around Southampton Island became an area of interest, the first step to creating an MPA. Narwhals, belugas, and bowhead whales migrate through the area, which is larger than the state of Indiana and adjacent to two bird sanctuaries. And in September, the Canadian and Nunatsiavut governments announced an assessment to consider a protected area of the offshore waters and fjords of Northern Labrador that surround Torngat Mountains National Park. The fragile ocean ecosystem, fed by the iceberg-laden Labrador Current, encompasses fjords and shorelines critical to the breeding and migration of marine mammals, fish, seabirds, and waterfowl and would be the first formal Indigenous National Marine Conservation Area. Pew and its partners helped lay the groundwork for the two announcements, including facilitating community involvement to ensure the input of Indigenous groups.
Innovation Fund grants to biomedical researchers announced
Pew announced its third class of Innovation Fund investigators in September. The grants, which are available to alumni of Pew’s three programs for early career biomedical scientists, will support six pairs of researchers who will undertake collaborative, interdisciplinary investigations. Each pair will be awarded $200,000 over two years to tackle complex questions in human biology and disease.
Supporting safe wildlife migration
In September, the Idaho Transportation Board approved funding for wildlife crossings at Rocky Point, a critical location on U.S. Highway 30 where some 6,000 mule deer cross twice a year, migrating from summer to winter range. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Idaho Transportation Department are partnering to build these wildlife crossings to increase driver safety while also conserving one of Idaho’s most impressive mule deer migration corridors. Pew provided technical comments, encouraged funding for the wildlife crossing project, and cultivated additional support from multiple partner organizations in Idaho.
The same month, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order directing the state’s transportation and wildlife agencies to work together to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions while protecting crucial habitat for animals such as elk, mule deer, and pronghorn. Pew has been an advocate for policy that seeks to improve driver safety while enhancing landscape connections for wildlife across the American West, including efforts in Colorado.
Ecosystem-based management plan for Antarctic krill advances
In October, the 26 member governments of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources agreed to advance an ecosystem-based management plan for the Antarctic krill fishery, which takes into account the key role the small forage species plays in the region’s food web. Delegates in support of the plan included those from Russia and China, two countries historically slowest to agree to conservation-oriented management measures for Antarctica’s Southern Ocean. At the suggestion of Pew, scientists from the British Antarctic Survey and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in June held a krill fishery management workshop in France, where drafting of the plan began. Pew led funding of the workshop.
Pew participates in Juvenile Justice Policy Forum
In September, Pew’s public safety performance project staff and state-based juvenile justice reform leaders gathered for two days of learning and discussion with legislators from 10 states that are emerging as juvenile justice champions. The program, which took place in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, built upon a National Conference of State Legislatures publication funded by Pew titled “Principles of Effective Juvenile Justice Policy.” Presenters included researchers, executive branch officials, legislators, court administrators, and others involved in the system. The meeting furthered Pew’s goal of advancing data-driven, research-informed justice policy that holds people accountable, makes cost-effective use of resources, and promotes public safety.
Pew marine fellows honored
- In September, the Royal Society of Canada named Rashid Sumaila a fellow of the Academy of Science for his pioneering work on fisheries economics. Sumaila is a professor at the University of British Columbia and a 2008 Pew marine fellow who studied financial factors that contribute to unsustainable commercial fishing.
- The Royal Society also named Anne Salomon a member of the College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists, which recognizes top midcareer leaders in Canada. Salomon is an associate professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and was awarded a Pew marine fellowship in 2013 for her research on the impacts of sea otter population recovery on the livelihoods and cultural values of Canadian First Nations.
- Asha de Vos, a 2016 Pew marine fellow, received an Inspirational Icon Award at the 21st Century Icon Awards in London in September. The award cites her research on Sri Lanka’s threatened pygmy blue whales and her work establishing Oceanswell, a marine conservation organization founded as part of her Pew fellowship project.
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Informing the Public
What do Americans know about religion?
The Pew Research Center released a report in July on Americans’ knowledge about topics related to religion, finding that most U.S. adults can answer some basic questions about the Bible and Christianity, but they are less familiar with some other world religions and about what the U.S. Constitution says regarding religion as it relates to elected officials. The survey also reveals that Americans’ levels of religious knowledge vary depending not only on what questions are being asked, but on who is answering. Jews, atheists, agnostics, and evangelical Protestants, as well as highly educated people and those who have religiously diverse social networks, show higher levels of religious knowledge, while young adults and racial and ethnic minorities tend to know somewhat less about religion than the average respondent does.
Trust in scientists is on the rise
In August, the Pew Research Center released a report examining public trust in scientific experts, finding that public confidence in scientists is on the upswing and 6 in 10 Americans say scientists should play an active role in policy debates about scientific issues. The survey finds public confidence in scientists on par with confidence in the military. It also exceeds the levels of public confidence in other groups and institutions, including the media, business leaders, and elected officials. At the same time, Americans are divided along party lines in terms of how they view the value and objectivity of scientists and their ability to act in the public interest, revealing particularly sizable gaps between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to trust in scientists whose work is related to the environment.
Varying interest in local news
The Pew Research Center published in August a new report finding that older Americans, black adults, and Americans with less education show considerably more interest in local news than their counterparts. Nearly a third of U.S. adults (31 percent) follow local news very closely, but local news does not play an equally vital role for all Americans. Relatively few Americans ages 18 to 29 (15 percent) follow local news very closely, compared with about 3 in 10 (28 percent) of those 30 to 49 and about 4 in 10 (39 percent) of those 50 and older. Black Americans show a stronger connection to local news: Just under half (46 percent) follow it very closely, while about a quarter (28 percent) of white Americans do the same, along with about a third (34 percent) of Hispanic adults. And about a third of Americans with a high school diploma or less education (36 percent) are very interested in local news, more so than those who have attended some college (30 percent) or received a college degree (25 percent). Additionally, there are large differences by age in how Americans prefer to get local news. Those ages 50 and older primarily turn to the TV set, while those younger than 50 mostly prefer online pathways. Black Americans and those with a high school diploma or less also express a far greater preference than their counterparts for getting local news through the TV set rather than online, in print, or on the radio.
Media employment continues to sink
The Pew Research Center released in August an analysis of staff layoffs that occurred in 2018 at newspapers and digital-native news outlets in the U.S. The report found that roughly a quarter of papers with an average Sunday circulation of 50,000 or more experienced layoffs. The layoffs come on top of the roughly one-third of papers in the same circulation range that experienced layoffs in 2017. In addition, the number of jobs typically cut by newspapers in 2018 tended to be higher than in the year before. Midmarket newspapers were the most likely to suffer layoffs in 2018—unlike in 2017, when the largest papers most frequently saw cutbacks. Meanwhile, digital-native news outlets also faced continued layoffs: In 2018, 14 percent of the highest-traffic digital-native news outlets went through layoffs, down slightly from 1 in 5 in 2017.
Invigorating Civic Life
Evaluation capacity building initiative graduates first cohort
The Pew Fund for Health and Human Services graduated its first cohort of grantee participants in its evaluation capacity building initiative, which started in early 2018 to strengthen grantees’ abilities to monitor and evaluate their programs and use data to improve services for some of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable residents. For more than a year, Pew partnered with consultants to help 30 Pew Fund grantees explore how to collect more useful data, encourage data-driven organizational cultures, and build stronger programs.
Pew Center for Arts & Heritage announces new grantees
The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage in October announced 39 grants in support of the Philadelphia region’s cultural organizations and artists. The 2019 awards total more than $8.4 million and provide funding for 12 Pew arts fellowships and 27 project grants. The grants include two new areas of support. In addition to the Center’s long-standing annual fellowships for Philadelphia-based artists, for the first time a Pew Fellows-in-Residence program will bring two artists from outside the region to live, work, and embed themselves in the community, becoming part of the city’s arts scene for a year. Additionally, the Center is funding its first organizational collaboration, a multifaceted musical project between two of the city’s major institutions—the Curtis Institute of Music and Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design.