“Threatened species programs need a social license to justify public funding” (Zander et al. 2014). Or do they? There is growing acceptance within conservation science that community support for and engagement in ecosystem management programs is likely to lead to better conservation outcomes (Marvier & Wong 2012). However, the language used to characterize relations between conservation and the community is important, and use of the term social license may not always be a useful way to describe this relationship. Since the mid-1990s, the term social licensehas been widely used in the mining sector to describe implicit acceptance and approval of a mining operation by the community in which it operates (Lacey & Lamont 2014). Other industries such as forestry, aquaculture, and agriculture have begun using the term in a similar way (Edwards & Trafford 2016; Ford & Williams 2016; Moffat et al. 2016). Now social license is beginning to appear in conservation discourse (e.g., Garnett et al., 2015; Oakes et al., 2015). At the same time, the use of social license in other sectors has been criticized (e.g., Owen & Kemp, 2013) because it frames relationships with communities as more singular, binary, and tangible than is feasible or desirable (Parsons & Moffat 2014). The use of social license in conservation needs critical evaluation, particularly given the broad contextual differences between conservation and industries such as mining.
Food for Thought
A major activity in the life of an academic is the professional conference. It is common knowledge that this is a place to present your research, but what about other benefits of attending a conference? Online surveys were distributed to delegates of the 3rd and 4th International Marine Conservation Congresses (IMCCs), with respondents' (n = 100) feedback including that the congresses provided useful new information that will aid: (1) their research (58%); (2) in-the-field conservation (29%); (3) conservation communication (46%); and (4) conservation and management policy making (45%). They also reported gaining new techniques (56%), skills (64%), and novel ideas (70%) to further their research/careers. Nearly all (91%) gained new contacts that improved their research, in-the-field conservation, science communication, and/or conservation policy making. Two thirds (64%) gained ideas, contacts, and/or lessons could lead to publications. Over a third (39%) gained new ideas, contacts and/or lessons that led to grant proposals, and 36% gained contacts that led to funding. A conference is not just an avenue for a scientist to present their research to the wider community, but it can be an important venue for brainstorming, networking and making vital connections that can lead to new initiatives, papers and funding, in a way that virtual, online meetings cannot. This is why conferences matter.
With a global increase in coastal development, together with increasing storminess and continuing sea level rise, coastal erosion has become a serious problem along a significant percentage of coastlines of many countries. Coastal erosion and shoreline management plans are often implemented on an action-reaction and post-disaster basis, resulting in installation of hard engineering structures, such as, groins, seawalls, revetments, gabions and breakwaters. These hard stabilization structures usually alter the natural environment of the coast, producing negative impacts. They do little to work with nature, and sustainability is a currently a critical issue. Under present and future environmental conditions, the world requires smarter coastal protection strategies that are adaptable, sustainable, multi-functional and economically viable to help solve immediate and predicted coastal erosion problems. An ecosystem-based approach based on the creation and restoration of coastal ecosystems, such as wetlands (e.g. mangroves), biogenic reef structures (e.g. corals, oysters, and mussels), seagrass beds and dune vegetation can offer optimal natural alternatives to help solve coastal erosion. Coastal ecosystems have some capacity for self-repair and recovery, and can provide significant advantages over traditional hard engineering approaches against coastal erosion. Also, they play a vital role in reducing the susceptibility of coastal communities to hazards through their multiple roles in processes, including sediment capture, system roughness and thus attenuation of wave energy. This paper seeks to undertake a general review of adaptation and protection measures against coastal erosion issues, based on incorporation of ecology and ecosystem services into coastal erosion management strategies.
The ocean represents a fundamental source of micronutrients and protein for a growing world population. Seafood is a highly traded and sought after commodity on international markets, and is critically dependent on healthy marine ecosystems. A global trend of wild stocks being overfished and in decline, as well as multiple sustainability challenges associated with a rapid growth of aquaculture, represent key concerns in relation to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Existing efforts aimed to improve the sustainability of seafood production have generated important progress, primarily at the local and national levels, but have yet to effectively address the global challenges associated with the ocean. This study highlights the importance of transnational corporations in enabling transformative change, and thereby contributes to advancing the limited understanding of large-scale private actors within the sustainability science literature. We describe how we engaged with large seafood producers to coproduce a global science–business initiative for ocean stewardship. We suggest that this initiative is improving the prospects for transformative change by providing novel links between science and business, between wild-capture fisheries and aquaculture, and across geographical space. We argue that scientists can play an important role in facilitating change by connecting knowledge to action among global actors, while recognizing risks associated with such engagement. The methods developed through this case study contribute to identifying key competences in sustainability science and hold promises for other sectors as well.
The United Nations has resolved to start the process of negotiating an international treaty on marine genetic resources in the High Seas, because the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea does not cover these resources and they are under threat of extinction. However, when an international legal rule establishing international rights for “all people” over natural resources is in force, the problem of “who is entitled to what?” changes to “how to ensure conservation of resources?”, which in this case means how the conservation of these resources should be financed. In this paper, the benefits and problems, and possible legal solutions obtained from adopting a legal methodology, will be depicted, based on the work of legal scholars and formal legal methodology, particularly the structures of legal reasoning, and the absence of legal rules and possible solutions to this will be discussed. Problems related to the benefits of marine genetic resources in the High Seas include how they are obtained and for whom, and these problems should be addressed for the sake of clarity in future legal rules in a way that supports the conservation of these resources. This research paper concentrates on recent developments in the High Seas vis-à-vis marine genetic resources, and the problems of financing the conservation of these natural resources. It discusses possible solutions to these problems through the equitable sharing of the benefits, following other international treaties, legal reasoning and legal arguments in relation to the manifestation of public policy.
Low diversity among scientists and practitioners is rampant in conservation. Currently, conservation professionals do not reflect the same diversity of perspectives and experiences of the world as the communities who bear the largest burden for implementing—or adverse consequences for failing to implement—conservation action. Acknowledging and describing the problem is important. But policies and programmes must also be put in place to correct it. Here, we highlight some measurable benefits of workforce diversity, and give an overview of some of the barriers to inclusion in marine conservation that help perpetuate low workforce diversity. Importantly, we underscore actions that both individuals and groups can take to alleviate such barriers. In particular, we describe the establishment of an online Marine Diversity Network, which conference participants proposed during a focus group meeting at the 4th International Marine Conservation Congress. The network will serve to bring together people from across the globe, from a variety of backgrounds, and from all career stages, to share knowledge, experiences and ideas, to provide and receive mentorship in marine conservation, and to forge new collaborations. Removing barriers to diverse participation requires coordinated, mindful actions by individuals and organizations. We hope that the proposed network and other actions presented in this paper find widespread support, and that they might serve both as inspiration and guide to other groups concerned with increasing diversity and inclusivity.
U.S. President Obama's recent creation of an interagency task force on wildlife trafficking reflects growing political awareness of linkages between wildlife conservation and national security (1). However, this and similar new initiatives in Europe and Asia promote a “war on poachers” that overlooks the ecological, social, and economic complexity of wildlife-related conflict. Input from multiple disciplines is essential to formulate policies that address drivers of wildlife decline and contexts from which associated conflicts ignite.
The role of academic research in the economic growth process has been widely considered over the last two decades in the theoretical and empirical literature, particularly around the concept of knowledge-based economy. Meanwhile, the very recent notion of “blue growth” and the significant development potential related to marine environments have gained more and more concern for policy makers on different scales. It is therefore interesting to assess the academic research related to marine issues, owing to its potential contribution to this dynamics growth through knowledge transfers and academic spillovers. This paper provides a global evaluation of the marine academic production, using a spatialized, open and transdisciplinary approach. In particular, this approach is to mobilize indicators to assess scientific production, transpose it to the territorial scale and make a global comparison of “research territories” in the case of marine science, with a specific focus on European cities. The results show that the five main centres are Tokyo (Japan), Paris (France), San Diego (USA), Moscow (Russia) and Woods Hole (USA). A dense European territorial coverage in marine science centres also appears, and new world major centres such as Chinese and Brazilian ones emerge.
Underwater stereo–video systems are widely used for counting and measuring fish in aquaculture, fisheries, and conservation management. Length measurements are generated from stereo–video recordings by a software operator using a mouse to locate the head and tail of a fish in synchronized pairs of images. This data can be used to compare spatial and temporal changes in the mean length and biomass or frequency distributions of populations of fishes. Since the early 1990s stereo–video has also been used for measuring the lengths of fish in aquaculture for quota and farm management. However, the costs of the equipment, software, the time, and salary costs involved in post processing imagery manually and the subsequent delays in the availability of length information inhibit the adoption of this technology.
We present a semi-automatic method for capturing stereo–video measurements to estimate the lengths of fish. We compare the time taken to make measurements of the same fish measured manually from stereo–video imagery to that measured semi-automatically. Using imagery recorded during transfers of Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) from tow cages to grow out cages, we demonstrate that the semi-automatic algorithm developed can obtain fork length measurements with an error of less than 1% of the true length and with at least a sixfold reduction in operator time in comparison to manual measurements. Of the 22 138 SBT recorded we were able to measure 52.6% (11 647) manually and 11.8% (2614) semi-automatically. For seven of the eight cage transfers recorded, there were no statistical differences in the mean length, weight, or length frequency between manual and semi-automatic measurements. When the data were pooled across the eight cage transfers, there was no statistical difference in mean length or weight between the stereo–video-based manual and semi-automated measurements. Hence, the presented semi-automatic system can be deployed to significantly reduce the cost involved in adoption of stereo–video technology.
While examining innovation in the ocean conservation space, we asked ourselves a difficult question: why hasn’t the circle hook—a novel, conservation-friendly improvement on fishing gear—achieved scale? This is an important and relevant question in the development field, where we constantly seek to improve the livelihoods of more individuals within a greater geographic range, using our funding as efficiently as possible. Scaling innovations is a critical piece of improving reach and impact, yet it is a notion that hasn’t been examined much in the conservation field. As we investigated the circle hook case and its scaling problem, we learned, as we frequently do, that it’s complicated.