Institutional amnesia pushes fish spawning aggregations towards extirpation

By Yvonne Sadovy
October 05, 2023

The concept of institutional amnesia, often discussed within management and business science, finds a unique arena of exploration in the field of conservation and fisheries science through this paper. The focus is directed towards fish spawning aggregations in the Mesoamerican Reef, a critical but overlooked area of study. Despite having a rich data history with over 20 years of underwater visual census surveys conducted at 36 spawning aggregation sites, and grey literature tracing back to the 1940s, there’s a profound disconnect. Managers and conservation practitioners report an ‘Unknown’ status for abundance tendencies of 48% of grouper and snapper spawning species across these sites, a concerning revelation especially when some sites exhibit a staggering decline in fish abundance. This paper aims to unravel the reasons behind such uncertainties in reporting, attributing a major part of the issue to institutional amnesia. Factors such as staff turnover, ineffective institutional learning, poor record-keeping, and a missing narrative tradition contribute to this memory loss, leading to unfavorable ecological outcomes for spawning aggregations. The discourse suggests a dire need for measures ensuring the continuity and preservation of institutional knowledge to reverse the tide of suboptimal ecological impacts. Read the full article by following this link: