Professor who denies over-fishing exists is funded by the fishing industry, says Greenpeace

Greenpeace USA reports, 12th May 2015: Washington, DC — Documents obtained by Greenpeace through two Public Records Act requests reveal that University of Washington fisheries biologist Ray Hilborn has received at least $3.56 million from 69 fishing, seafood and other industry groups.

Hilborn, an outspoken denier of over-fishing and a critic of marine protected areas, has violated the policies of scientific journals by failing to disclose these conflicts of interest in multiple publications.

“The seafood industry has given millions of dollars to Ray Hilborn in an attempt to undermine the broad scientific consensus that poor fisheries management has resulted in depleted fish populations and damaged ecosystems,” said Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign Director John Hocevar.

“Hilborn’s failure to acknowledge the problem of over-fishing is the equivalent of climate denial and every person who reads his work should at the very least know that corporate interests are underwriting his commentary.”

Between 2003 and 2015, Hilborn received research funding from corporate interests including Trident, At-Sea Processors, the South African Deep Sea Trawling Association, and the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (the trade association for the industrial tuna fleet), among many others.

He also received consulting money — of undisclosed amounts — from industry groups such as the National Fisheries Institute, the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council, the BC Underwater Harvesters Association, FishAmerica Foundation, and ExxonMobil.

Hilborn’s funding is rarely disclosed in scientific publications. Of Hilborn’s 138 papers containing acknowledgements, only 26 mention corporate funding. Only 21 industry groups are mentioned by name despite Hilborn receiving funding from 69 groups between 2003 and 2015, as well as many more private consulting fees during the same time period.

Today, Greenpeace sent a formal complaint to the University of Washington urging the university to conduct its own investigation around the apparent research misconduct of Professor Hilborn.

The organisation asked the university to address the lack of disclosure of these funds in scientific and popular publications, along with the conflicts of interest posed by Dr. Hilborn’s personal financial gain. Greenpeace also requested that UW disclose the Facilities & Administrative overhead funds received indirectly as a result of Dr. Hilborn’s industry funds.

“Throughout his career, Hilborn has fought alongside corporations against ocean conservation efforts, and in fact, just last year he attacked Greenpeace’s campaign to stop labour abuse and unsustainable fishing by tuna industry giant Thai Union,” continued Hocevar.

“It isn’t just that the seafood industry is funding Ray Hilborn. The problem is that he has repeatedly failed to acknowledge these conflicts of interest in violation of publication requirements, even as he has taken millions of dollars in industry funding.”

Greenpeace’s Esperanza ship is currently in the Indian Ocean in a bid to disrupt the fishing operations of industrial tuna giant Thai Union, owner of Chicken of the Sea in the United States.

The Greenpeace team is working to remove destructive fishing gear, including Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs), which are responsible for overfishing and significant bycatchBycatch The part of a fishery catch that is not a legal target of the fishery. Bycatch may be retained and landed but is usually discarded (released or returned to the sea, dead or alive). Examples: sea turtles caught in a longline fishery, sharks caught while fishing for swordfish, small or undersize red snapper caught when fishing for larger red snapper, and target species caught after a quota or limit has been reached.. Some tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean, such as Yellowfin, are on the brink of collapse due to overfishing.

To access the documents obtained by Public Records Act, the complaint letter sent to the University of Washington, and a summary of Hilborn’s funding, please visit:

Source, Greenpeace USA. For the full details, see

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