Comanagement is recognized, practiced, and recommended as an effective, equitable approach to place-based protection of marine resources. Despite acknowledged benefits and its potential for improved management outcomes, in the U.S., comanagement of marine protected areas (MPAs) is a relatively new approach, with limited applications. This paper reveals social, ecological and institutional conditions that enabled, or hindered, development of comanagement as an outcome of collaborative processes undertaken by community-based actors and state-based resource managers in three U.S. MPA case studies. A mixed method design, consisting of a literature review, in-depth interviews and document analysis was used to analyze MPAs in Hawai‘i, California and Florida where: (1) comanagement systems have developed between state government and community-based partners, (2) protected area boundaries and objectives are clearly defined, and, (3) marine habitat protection is a primary management objective. Eight enabling conditions were present in all three cases. Four of these conditions were consistent with preconditions identified in a published conceptual framework for comanagement arrangements synthesized from the literature and direct observations – an opportunity for negotiation, a legally mandated or brokered incentive, a willingness by local users to contribute, and leadership. Four more enabling conditions emerged from this study – connection to place, a capacity crisis, government willingness to partner, and a clear and just process. As managers strive to protect marine ecosystem function in the face of chronic environmental stressors and limited government support for environmental protection, applying these findings to leverage conditions that enable comanagement can help build community-based capacity to effectively manage MPAs.
Bycatch in fisheries is one of the greatest threats to marine megafauna such as sea turtles, and the Biodiversity Impact Mitigation Hierarchy (BIMH) has been proposed as an improved and holistic approach for integrating fisheries management with sea turtle conservation. The first three BIMH steps – avoid, minimize, and remediate – take place at sea where fishing activity is taking place. However, these at-sea measures are costly and difficult to effectively implement across the vast range of a highly migratory species. As such, some level of mortality continues, even when the first three steps of the BIMH are implemented as extensively as possible. These remaining negative impacts need to be addressed by compensatory conservation actions elsewhere, e.g., at sea turtle nesting beaches. As a case study, we use the critically endangered leatherback sea turtle nesting population in Papua Barat, Indonesia, to illustrate the opportunity for conservatory offsets to fisheries bycatch across the Pacific. We describe the community empowerment and nest protection programs that have been enhanced by the voluntary offsets from the tuna industry. While improved nest protection measures have helped optimize hatchling production, the engagement of the local communities, through activities that empower and enhance quality of life, has been a critical component to the successful increase in hatchlings. This momentum needs to be sustained and scaled-up to protect the majority of threatened nests over a consistent number of years to successfully provide the recruitment boost needed at the population level. These compensatory off-site conservation measures are also the most cost-effective means of achieving increases in leatherback populations, and perhaps one of the most critical components of the recovery strategy for Pacific leatherbacks.
Australian science has evolved to include a number of initiatives designed to promote and guide ethical and culturally appropriate Indigenous participation and engagement. While interest and overall engagement between Indigenous people and marine scientists appears to have grown in the last decade there are also signs that some researchers may not be setting out to engage with Indigenous Australians on the right foot. This research seeks to move beyond anecdotal evidence about engagement of marine researchers with Indigenous Australians by gathering empirical information from the scientists’ perspective. Our survey of 128 respondents showed that 63% (n = 79) of respondents have engaged with Indigenous communities in some way throughout their career, however, most marine research projects have not included Indigenous engagement and when it occurs it is often shorter than 3 years in duration. Responses indicated that the majority of marine scientists see mutual benefits from engagement, do not avoid it and believe it will become more important in the future. We identify a number of challenges and opportunities for marine research institutions, marine researchers and Indigenous communities if positive aspirations for engagement are to be converted to respectful, long-term and mutually beneficial engagement.
Scientific research and expertise play a critical role in informing legislative decisions and guiding effective policy. However, significant communication gaps persist between scientists and policymakers. While interest in science policy among researchers has substantially increased in recent decades, traditional academic and research careers rarely provide formal training or exposure to the inner workings of government, public policy, or communicating scientific findings to broad audiences. Here, we offer 10 practical steps for scientists who want to engage in science policy efforts, with a focus on state and federal policy in the United States. We first include a primer to government structure and tailoring science communication for a policymaker audience. We then provide action-oriented steps that focus on arranging and successfully navigating meetings with government officials. Finally, we suggest structural steps in academia that would provide resources and support for students, researchers, and faculty who are interested in policy. We offer our perspective, as early-career marine scientists who have participated in policy discussions at state and federal levels and through the American Geophysical Union’s “Voices for Science” program. This guide offers potential pathways for engagement in science policy, and provides researchers with tangible actions to effectively reach stakeholders. Lastly, we hope to activate further conversations on best practices for policy engagement, particularly for researchers interested in careers at the science policy interface.
The Firth of Clyde, on the west coast of Scotland, was once one of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe. However, successive decades of poor management and overfishing led to a dramatic loss of biodiversity and the collapse of finfish fisheries. In response, concerned local residents on the Isle of Arran, which lies in the middle of the Clyde, formed the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) in 1995. After 13 years of campaigning, a small (2.67 km2) area in Lamlash Bay became Scotland’s first no-take zone (NTZ) in 2008, and only the second in the UK. Since protection, biodiversity has increased substantially, along with the size, age and density of commercially important species such as the king scallop, Pecten maximus, and the European lobster, Homarus gammarus. Arguably more important, however, is the influence the Lamlash Bay NTZ and COAST have had on UK marine protection in general. Most notably, detailed research has created a case study that clearly demonstrates the benefits of protection in an area where little such evidence is available. This case has been used repeatedly to support efforts for increased protection of UK waters to help rebuild marine ecosystems and enhance their resilience in an uncertain future. In Scotland specifically, lobbying by COAST led to the designation of a much larger marine protected area (MPA, >250 km2) around the south of Arran, one of 30 new MPAs in the country. Evidence from Lamlash Bay has supported development of strong protection for these MPAs, seeing off lobbyist efforts to weaken management. Arran’s conservation success has been recognized internationally and is inspiring greater involvement of local communities around the UK, and further afield, to take the destiny of their coastal waters into their own hands. Successful marine conservation begins at home.
It is widely accepted that public policy decisions that account for scientific and technical advice are likely to improve outcomes for all. With more data and information available though, it is becoming increasingly difficult to even agree on the baseline facts. This research explores the question: How do cross-sectoral engagement opportunities influence science intensive disputes over the management of coastal and ocean resources? To address this question, I studied two cases in New England: 1) marine fisheries management (Northeast Multispecies Complex aka groundfish) and 2) estuarine water quality management (Great Bay, New Hampshire). Informed by participant observation and semi-structured interviews with researchers, managers, and the regulated community within each case, findings from this research are presented in three analyses: 1) examining the potential role negotiation theory can play in better understanding these dispute cases; 2) understanding how science is used within the existing processes as well as whether there is interest in and potential for more collaborative approaches; and 3) understanding the impacts of engaging across different groups of perspectives. Taken together, the findings from these analyses show that when done well, cross sectoral engagement activities help to develop relationships, open lines of communication, and expand individual and collective understanding of the issues at hand (not driven by just one group view). These types of engagement activities also create space for creative solutions. While decisions will ultimately still need to be made and “value claimed,” processes that enable a more complete picture and an expansion of the ideas at the table will ultimately be more resilient and adaptive in the face of change. These approaches can be hampered by poor process design, power imbalances, lack of resources, use of legal tools in adversarial as opposed to collaborative approaches, limited familiarity with potentially beneficial approaches from negotiation (mutual gains and/or principled), and lack of training and/or exposure to other perspectives or ways of thinking. Taken together, efforts to think differently about systems approaches, changes to research processes, new perspectives on stakeholder engagement, and multi-partner collaborative efforts might help make the jump towards progress in social-ecological systems.
- A holistic approach to stakeholder participation is emerging where youth are increasingly being recognized as core stakeholders in community‐based conservation efforts.
- A growing number of youth‐focused marine conservation initiatives and representation at international marine conservation conventions demonstrate that youth are taking an active role in marine conservation worldwide.
- This paper surveys current best practices in youth engagement in marine protected areas (MPAs) in Canada, across 10 different engagement strategies. These are: facilitate learning through experiential education; include studies of MPAs in academic and community programmes; utilize multimedia opportunities, including social media, film, website, and apps; provide meaningful volunteer opportunities; deliver professional development sessions for youth initiative building; create youth councils to assist organizations in an advisory role; hire youth for employment in internships, co‐ops and junior positions within organizations; showcase young people as Youth Ambassadors of MPAs; share opportunities through effective outreach and promotion; and, integrate under‐represented perspectives in MPAs.
- Recommendations are drawn from the case studies within each engagement strategy. Collectively, they offer insight into the variety of ways the international community can support, highlight and advance youth participation in MPAs.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are vital to marine conservation, but their coverage and distribution is insufficient to address declines in global biodiversity and fisheries. In response, many countries have committed through the Aichi Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity to conserve 10% of the marine environment through ‘ecologically representative’ and ‘equitably managed’ MPAs by 2020. The rush to fulfill this commitment has raised concerns on how efforts to increase MPA coverage will affect other elements of Target 11, including representation and equity. We used a Philippines case study to assess and compare three alternative MPA planning approaches for biodiversity representation and equitable distribution of costs to small‐scale fishers. MPAs in an ‘opportunistic approach’ were identified and supported by coastal communities. A ‘donor‐assisted approach’ utilised local knowledge to select MPAs through a national‐scale and donor‐assisted conservation project. A ‘systematic conservation planning approach’ identified MPA locations through the spatial prioritization software ‘Marxan with Zones’ to achieve biodiversity objectives with minimal and equitable costs to fishers. The opportunistic approach was ineffective at representing biodiversity and resulted in inequitable costs to fishers. MPAs selected through the donor‐assisted approach affected fishers disproportionately but provided near‐optimal representation of a study region extent. With approximately the same MPA coverage, the systematic approach was the only approach that achieved all representation targets with minimal and equitable costs to fishers. Our results demonstrate the utility of systematic conservation planning to address key elements of Target 11 and highlight opportunities and pitfalls for planning MPAs in similar contexts.
Marine stakeholder groups have diverse relationships with the ocean and life within it, which can create conflict and distrust between them. Citizen science and social licence present promising means to develop dialogue between these diverse marine stakeholders and improve outcomes for marine management. Citizen science can be defined as public engagement in scientific research and activities and amongst other benefits, has been demonstrated to improve communication and relationships amongst resource management and stakeholder groups. Social licence is a concept that reflects unwritten permission from the public for others to use and manage natural resources, and has become an important theme for development in the marine realm. We explore a case-study of the marine citizen science programme Redmap Australia, utilising a mixed-methods approach to understand community perceptions of other marine user groups. We explore how marine users legitimise one another, and how this relates to building relationships and developing social licence. Our results show that participation in citizen science can allow users to display their marine citizenship and shared concern about the marine environment, and that this can allow them to earn trust from other user groups. We conclude that participation in citizen science improves perceptions of trustworthiness and can enhance social licence for marine user groups, with positive implications for marine and coastal management. These outcomes provide fruitful insights on marine resource user groups' perceptions that can help to advise future developments in the growing fields of citizen science practice and citizen science research.
Shoreline litter is one of the most widespread pollution problems today. Since shorelines represent very sensitive and large geographical areas, any organized cleanup event requires considerable manpower in order to be successful. This case study illustrates how Vancouver Aquarium and World Wildlife Foundation recruited, organized, and retained tens of thousands of volunteers in order to build a shoreline cleanup movement across Canada.