Summary of event: The RBMS Reading Group on Thursday 10 April 2014 met to discuss a 2010 journal article on the concept of ‘Best Available Science’. This topic was mentioned in the RBMS submission on the Water Law Exposure Draft and briefly discussed at our last reading group. This session gave us the opportunity to explore the topic in more detail.
Ryder, D., Tomlinson, M., Gawne, B. and Likens, G. E. (2010) Defining and using ‘best available science’: a policy conundrum for the management of aquatic ecosystems. Marine and Freshwater Research 61(7) 821–828
Integrative research has been the dominant theme in this Special Issue, demonstrated by contemporary examples of effective collaborations and solutions for the successful engagement of scientists in the policy and management arena. Evident in these papers is the increasing use of the term ‘best available science’ (BAS) as a basis for well-informed resource management decisions. The term is used to engender credibility and trust among stakeholders and promotes greater awareness, communication, involvement, transparency and understanding among research, policy and management communities. However, there remains no clear statement of the properties of BAS or guidance on its practical application in the decision-making process. We define the attributes that underpin BAS and examine the issues of uncertainty, risk and communication as key challenges to successful integrative management. We advocate an interdisciplinary process that facilitates understanding of discipline-based knowledge structures, articulates uncertainty and risk about the scientific information, and promotes engagement and trust among the generators and users of information. Ultimately, successful management of aquatic ecosystems will rely on scientists, managers and decision makers who have the skills and courage to apply the best science available and not wait for the best science possible.
The article can be accessed through the Marine and Freshwater Research journal here.