Attitudes toward sustainability and extinction.
Conservation biologists and natural resource managers are both working to maintain species, but their approaches and priorities differ. The contrast was highlighted when the World Conservation Union (IUCN) listed some commercial fish species, such as the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), in the 1996 Red List of Threatened Animals. These species qualified under IUCN's criteria because they had undergone a marked decline in abundance. Disagreements over these listings revealed fundamental differences between resource managers and conservation biologists. Resource managers aiming to maximize continuing yields using specific, explicit, and data-rich models, generally have not considered risk assessment and sometimes face the necessity for political compromises. Conservation biologists generally consider a wide diversity of species and operate in a data-poor and precautionary context with an overall aim of minimizing extinction risk. The IUCN Red List is an extreme case in point and uses simple criteria for evaluating the conservation status of all species. Under these circumstances, it can do little more than indicate a species' status in order to prompt further investigation by the appropriate body. We suggest that productive collaboration between conservation biologists and resource managers will start with an understanding of these different perspectives and will benefit from common interests in precautionary approaches, ecosystem approaches, and adaptive management studies.
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