Stewardship—Finding a Balance

Summary: The How Many Fish? topic guide in the previous section helps students learn about the concept of population ecology and sustainability in fishing practices. Each activity ends with a stewardship component, highlighted here, which challenges students to devise solution that promote sustainability.

Concepts to teach: Problem-solving, engineering design, fisheries management, sustainability

Goals: Students use models to design potential solutions to overharvesting.

S3.3S.1, S3.3S.2, S3.3S.3
S4.3S.1, S4.3S.2, S4.3S.3
S5.3S.1, S5.3S.2, S5.3S.3

S3.4D.1, S3.4D.2
S4.4D.1, S4.4D.2
S5.4D.1, S5.4D.2

SS.05.EC.01, SS.05.GE.07

Specific Objectives:

  1. Recognize that fish populations remain stable when life history characteristics, ecological relationships, and harvesting practices are in balance.
  2. Propose an improvement to a fishing or gear that increases sustainability.
  3. Explain the role of fisheries managers in maintaining sustainability of the ocean’s resources.

Activity Links and Resources:

  • Alaska Fisheries Science Center – See how fishers, scientists, fishery managers and seafood inspectors work to maintain sustainable fisheries.
  • NOAA Fisheries Northwest Regional Office School Curricula highlight how scientific evidence and stakeholder input help NOAA Fisheries policy makers and manager to decide on regulations and other actions to conserve and manage the resources for which the agency is responsible.
      • Lesson 3—Data collection and analysis, Halibut Derby activity
      • Lesson 4—Government, Policy and Management
      • Lesson 5—Compare science in classroom to NOAA’s work
    • Saving Salmon
      • Lesson 3—Management and Policy
      • Lesson 4—Economics and Stakeholders
      • Lesson 5—Civics, Rights and Responsibility
  • One Fish, Two Fish—Designed by OIMB Graduate students, this lesson encourages students to find a balance in their fishing practices. Students create new rules for a fishing game to improve sustainability.
  • Fishing for the Future—This lesson plan from Alaska Sea Grant’s “Alaska Seas and Rivers Curriculum” simulates fishery activity using increasingly sophisticated technology. In the Elaboration section, students create new rules for a fishing game to improve sustainability.
  • What can we do to keep seafood sustainable? Share your findings with others through a display, report, skit, or Public Service Announcement. Some examples:
    • Recreational Fishing Practices
      • Wash Your Boat—Use background information from the Oregon State Marine Board to create a PSA advising the recreational fishing community how to reduce the spread of invasive species.
      • Article: Make sure you have the correct escape cord on your crab pots –  explains how using cotton cord on crab pots can save thousands of crabs.
    • Seafood Consumer Practices
      • Seafood Watch —Monterey Bay Aquarium’s guide to sustainable seafood.
      • NOAA Fishwatch—Helps consumers make informed decisions about U.S. seafood
      • Help Wild Salmon—Salmon-safe’s top ten ways you can take action and be a salmon hero.


  • Use or develop formative assessment probes to gauge student understanding about the water cycle. The following probes from Uncovering Student Ideas in Science, vol. 3 and 4 could be applied or modified (to obtain Uncovering Student Ideas in Science publications or access sample chapters, visit the NSTA website):
    • Is it a model? (vol. 4)—elicits student ideas about how models are used to explore and test scientific ideas.
    • Doing science (vol. 3)—explores scientific inquiry concepts.
  • Assessment worksheets and other tools are included in many of the curricula in this topic guide.