Communication and Education

Innovation in communications about marine protection

Day A, Laffoley D, Davis J, Jeffrey A, Musard O, Vick C. Innovation in communications about marine protection. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems [Internet]. 2014 ;24(S2):216 - 237. Available from:
Freely available?: 
Summary available?: 
Type: Journal Article
  1. Most of the people working in the field of marine protection share a common goal: that decision-makers, stakeholders, and the public should see marine protection as a priority and dedicate a portion of their attention and resources to it, making decisions and taking actions that reflect the value of marine protection to ecological and human well-being.
  2. If this goal is to be achieved, the field of marine protection needs to embrace the field of communication in a more concerted manner.
  3. This paper outlines some of the latest trends, principles and issues relevant to communication in marine protection and illustrates these with a range of examples. Some of the key themes emerging from this review are discussed.
  4. A number of strategies for strengthening the role of communications are discussed, including means for those involved in marine protection communications to connect with each other, increased testing and sharing of examples, the use of grounded theory methods to continuously define lessons and principles, and ways to increase coordination between marine protection organizations.
  5. It is the intention that this paper will mark the beginning of a stronger cross-disciplinary field of study, and that such a field will in turn advance marine protection locally and globally.
  6. Readers can contribute to this goal and emerging field by connecting with each other around strategies, ideas and examples.

Growing Pains: How Risk Perception and Risk Communication Research Can Help to Manage the Challenges of Global Population Growth

Dawson IGJ, Johnson JEV. Growing Pains: How Risk Perception and Risk Communication Research Can Help to Manage the Challenges of Global Population Growth. Risk Analysis [Internet]. 2014 ;34(8):1378 - 1390. Available from:
Freely available?: 
Summary available?: 
Type: Journal Article

In 2011, the global human population reached 7 billion and medium variant projections indicate that it will exceed 9 billion before 2045. Theoretical and empirical perspectives suggest that this growth could lead to an increase in the likelihood of adverse events (e.g., food shortages, climate change, etc.) and/or the severity of adverse events (e.g., famines, natural disasters, etc.). Several scholars have posited that the size to which the global population grows and the extent to which this growth increases the likelihood of adverse outcomes will largely be shaped by individuals’ decisions (in households, organizations, governments, etc.). In light of the strong relationship between perceived risk and decision behaviors, it is surprising that there remains a dearth of empirical research that specifically examines the perceived risks of population growth and how these perceptions might influence related decisions. In an attempt to motivate this important strand of research, this article examines the major risks that may be exacerbated by global population growth and draws upon empirical work concerning the perception and communication of risk to identify potential directions for future research. The article also considers how individuals might perceive both the risks and benefits of population growth and be helped to better understand and address the related issues. The answers to these questions could help humanity better manage the emerging consequences of its continuing success in increasing infant survival and adult longevity.

An Analysis of the Narrative-Building Features of Interactive Sea Level Rise Viewers

Stephens SH, DeLorme DE, Hagen SC. An Analysis of the Narrative-Building Features of Interactive Sea Level Rise Viewers. Science Communication [Internet]. 2014 ;36(6):675-705. Available from:
Freely available?: 
Summary available?: 
Type: Journal Article

Interactive sea level rise viewers (ISLRVs) are map-based visualization tools that display projections of sea level rise scenarios to communicate their impacts on coastal areas. Information visualization research suggests that as users interact with such tools they construct personalized narratives of their experience. We argue that attention to narrative-building features in ISLRVs can improve communication effectiveness by promoting user engagement and discovery. A content analysis that focuses on the presence and characteristics of narrative-building features in a purposive sample of 20 ISLRVs is conducted. We also identify particular areas where these ISLRVs could be improved as narrative-building tools.

User's Guide for Evaluating Learning Outcomes from Citizen Science

Phillips T, Ferguson M, Minarchek M, Porticella N, Bonney R. User's Guide for Evaluating Learning Outcomes from Citizen Science. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; 2014 p. 58.
Freely available?: 
Summary available?: 
Type: Report

The User's Guide for Evaluating Learning Outcomes from Citizen Science was developed by Cornell Lab of Ornithology researchers for practitioners who want to evaluate learning outcomes from their citizen science projects. It includes a practical overview of evaluation techniques, tips, and best-practices for conducting evaluations, a glossary of terms, and an extensive set of templates and worksheets to help with evaluation planning and implementation.

Evaluating learning outcomes is a high priority for citizen science practitioners, but many find it to be challenging. We want this guide to make evaluation easy to understand - and easy to execute!

National Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning Workshop: June 21–23, 2011 Washington, DC - Summary Report

Citation Information: Meridian Institute, Workshop Facilitators; 2011

Description: On June 21-23, the National Ocean Council brought together over 500 Federal, State, Tribal, and local government representatives, indigenous community leaders, and stakeholders and members of the public from across the country – from Gulfport to Anchorage and from Pago Pago to Portland – to kickoff efforts for regional collaboration to advance the stewardship of our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes. Participants discussed how cooperative ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes planning can be used to grow or protect jobs, secure energy independence, enhance recreational activities, and maximize the uses of our Nation's working waters while ensuring their conservation.

The National Ocean Council has published a National CMSP Workshop Report Summary that can be accessed here. This detailed report summary captures the themes that emerged over the three-day workshop, includes responses to participant questions, and provides the CMSP Simulation Exercise materials and other associated speaker presentations.

The National Ocean Council, working in close in coordination with its Governance Coordinating Committee, is now drafting regional planning body guidance (RPB) documents that will help stand up the RPBs and begin regional CMSP efforts. National Ocean Council Federal agency representatives throughout the regions are continuing to seek opportunities to engage and share information with the public, and work with their State, Tribal, and local partners as well as stakeholders and members of the public to create a flexible, bottom-up CMSP effort.

The National Ocean Council will continue to apply and learn from the diversity of viewpoints, perspectives, and insights gained at the National Workshop. Stay tuned for future updates on regional CMSP workshop planning

Evaluating the management effectiveness of three marine protected areas in the Calamianes Islands, Palawan Province, Philippines: Process, selected results and their Implications for planning and management

Citation Information: Ocean & Coastal Management, Volume 81, September 2013, Pages 49–57

Authors: Len R. Garces, Michael D. Pido, Mark H. Tupper, Geronimo T. Silvestre

Abstract: Evaluating the management effectiveness of marine protected areas (MPAs) has been a continuing challenge in marine conservation in the tropics. This paper describes the process involved, the chosen indicators and the selected results of the evaluation of management effectiveness of three MPAs in the Calamianes Islands, Palawan Province, Philippines. The evaluation was a participatory process that involved several institutions: academe, an externally-funded project, local governments, national government agencies and research organizations. Twenty-three indicators were used for evaluation: six biophysical indicators that largely measured the status of capture fisheries and coastal habitats; eight socioeconomic indicators that largely assessed the economic status and the perceptions of coastal communities; and nine governance indicators that measured the various facets of MPA management. Key lessons learned indicate the need to correlate the perceptions of coastal stakeholders with scientific findings as some perceptions did not reflect the results of biophysical surveys. We illustrate that a multidisciplinary approach and engagement of key stakeholders provides a comprehensive assessment and consensus for measuring the success of MPAs.

Seahorses helped drive creation of marine protected areas, so what did these protected areas do for the seahorses?

Citation Information: Environmental Conservation (2012), 39 : pp 183-193

Authors: M. Yasué, A. Nellas, and A. C. J. Vincent

Abstract: In marine environments, charismatic or economically valued taxa have been used as flagships to garner local support or international funds for the establishment and management of marine protected areas (MPAs). Seahorses (Hippocampus spp.) are frequently used as flagship species to help engender support for the creation of small community-managed no-take MPAs in the central Philippines. It is thus vital to determine whether such MPAs actually have an effect on seahorse abundance, reproductive status and size. A survey of seahorses inside and immediately adjacent to eight MPAs, and in four distant unprotected fishing areas, showed these MPAs had no significant effect on seahorse densities; although densities in and near MPAs were higher than in the distant fished sites, seahorse densities did not change over time. Seahorse size did show a marginal reserve effect, with slightly larger seahorses being found inside MPAs as compared to the distant unprotected fishing areas, but, in general, MPAs had little impact on seahorse size. Although MPAs may eliminate local fishing pressure, they may not reduce other threats such as pollution or destructive fishing outside the reserves. Other recovery tools, such as ecosystem-based management, habitat restoration and limits on destructive fishing outside of MPAs, may be necessary to rebuild seahorse populations. The effects of MPAs depend on species, as well as conditions outside the reserve boundaries. MPA management objectives must thus be clearly and realistically articulated to the communities, especially if support for an MPA was derived at least partly to conserve a particular flagship species.

Is Canada on track to create 12 new marine protected areas by December 2012?

Citation Information: Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), Dare to be Deep Progress Report

Date: May 14, 2012

Executive Summary: With the longest coastline of any country in the world, but less than one percent of our oceans under any form of meaningful protection, Canada’s rich marine ecosystems are at growing peril. The biggest threats to marine biodiversity are overfishing, industrial development, pollution and climate change.

Recognizing that Canada is not going to achieve its international commitment to completing a full network of marine protected areas by 2012, one year ago CPAWS challenged the federal government, working with the provinces and Indigenous peoples, to demonstrate real progress towards this commitment by significantly advancing protection of 12 special marine sites by December 2012. These 12 sites are extraordinary places that nurture fish stocks and shelter endangered species like Right and Blue whales, Atlantic wolffish and Leatherback turtles. They are also amazing destinations for nature lovers to marvel at the wonders above and below the ocean’s surface.

As a national conservation organization with chapters in nearly every province and territory, CPAWS staff and volunteers are directly engaged in marine conservation efforts in the 12 areas reviewed in this report. One year after we launched our challenge to create 12 new marine protected areas by 2012 we have reviewed the action by governments to move these 12 sites closer to final protection. We have assessed how much progress has been made towards establishing these marine protected areas, as well as the strength of conservation measures being proposed for each site.

Deriving Lessons Relating to Marine Spatial Planning from Canada's Eastern Scotian Shelf Integrated Management Initiative

Citation Information: Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning; Volume 14, Issue 1, 2012; Special Issue: Marine Spatial Planning: A New Frontier?

DOI: 10.1080/1523908X.2012.662384

Authors: Wesley Flannery & Micheál Ó Cinnéide

Abstract: Stakeholder participation is viewed as a key element of ecosystem-based marine spatial planning (MSP). There is much debate over the effectiveness of stakeholder participation in ecosystem-based management (EBM) in general and over the form it should take. Particular challenges relating to participation in the marine environment are highlighted. A study of the Eastern Scotian Shelf Integrated Management initiative, which uses a collaborative planning model to implement EBM, is presented in order to explore these issues further. Criteria derived from a review of collaborative planning literature are employed to evaluate the effectiveness of this model, which is found to be a useful consensus-building tool. Although a strategic-level plan has been adopted, the initiative has encountered difficulties transitioning from plan development to plan implementation. These are attributable in large measure to deficiencies in the design of the collaborative model. Useful lessons relating mainly to stakeholder engagement, the role of the lead agency, and implementation strategies are advanced for those engaging in MSP processes.

Challenges in global biodiversity conservation and solutions that cross sociology, politics, economics and ecology

Citation Information: Published online before print July 25, 2012, doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2012.0596 Biol. Lett.

Authors: Sean Hoban and Cristiano Vernesi

Abstract: The study and practice of conservation biology is inherently interdisciplinary, addresses short and long time-scales and occurs within complex human–natural interfaces. Zoos and aquaria, in partnership with researchers, other non-government organizations, government, industry and educators, are combining knowledge of species and ecosystems with economics, psychology and law to create solutions for conserving biodiversity. From 22 to 25 May, the Conservation Forum of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria was a venue for discussing conservation research, education and interventions, from the scale of villages to global policy.


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