Food for Thought

Global Ocean Science Report: The Current Status of Ocean Science around the World – Executive Summary

Anon. Global Ocean Science Report: The Current Status of Ocean Science around the World – Executive Summary. Paris, France: UNESCO; 2017. Available from: https://www.oceangov.eu/news_full/global-ocean-science-report-current-status-ocean-science-around-world-executive-summary/
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report

The ocean is the largest ecosystem on our planet, regulating change and variability in the climate system and supporting the global economy, nutrition, health and wellbeing, water supply and energy. The coastal zone is home to the majority of the world population; dependency on the ecosystem services provided by the ocean is likely to increase with population growth. The ocean was once thought to be a vast and indefinitely resilient compartment of the Earth system, able to absorb practically all pressures of the human population, from resource exploitation to fisheries and aquaculture development to marine transport. However, according to the First World Ocean Assessment, 1 our civilization is running out of time to avoid the detrimental cycle of decline in ocean health that will have dramatic repercussions on the ability of the ocean to keep providing the support we need. To achieve global sustainability and adequate stewardship of the ocean, as called for in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda), ocean science is crucial to understand and monitor the ocean, predict its health status and support decision-making to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14) “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”.

The IOC-UNESCO Global Ocean Science Report (GOSR) aims to provide a status report on ocean science. It identifies and quantifies the elements that drive the productivity and performance of ocean science, including workforce, infrastructure, resources, networks and outputs. The report is intended to facilitate international ocean science cooperation and collaboration. It helps to identify gaps in science organization and capacity and develop options to optimize the use of scientific resources and advance ocean science and technology by sharing expertise and facilities, promoting capacity building and transferring marine technology. As the first consolidated assessment of global ocean science, the GOSR assists the science-policy interface and supports managers, policy-makers, governments and donors, as well as scientists beyond the ocean community. The GOSR offers decision-makers an unprecedented tool to identify gaps and opportunities to advance international collaboration in ocean science and technology and harness its potential to meet societal needs, address global challenges and drive sustainable development for all.

There is no commonly accepted definition of ocean science; the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea does not provide a definition of marine scientific research. For the purpose of this report, ocean science is considered to be a combination of disciplines classified into eight categories that cover integrative and interdisciplinary strategic research areas often recognized as high-level themes in national and international research strategies and policies (Figure ES1). This classification enables global comparisons and interdisciplinary analyses in line with the 2030 Agenda.

The report draws on a range of information sources. In addition to tailored questionnaires developed for the GOSR, ocean science output data (bibliometrics) by Science-Metrix and supplementary resources (e.g. web-based assessments and reports produced by intergovernmental organizations) were compiled to form the data set for the GOSR analysis.

Freedom, part-time pirates, and poo police: Regulating the heterotopic space of the recreational boat

Grant-Smith D, Mayes R. Freedom, part-time pirates, and poo police: Regulating the heterotopic space of the recreational boat. Environment and Planning A [Internet]. 2017 ;49(6):1379 - 1395. Available from: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0308518X17697976
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $36.00
Type: Journal Article

At all levels of governance from international convention to local policy, the regulation of pollution from boats and ships has been steeped in conflict and subject to resistance. Recreational boaters, in particular, are often highly resistant to attempts to regulate their boating activity, particularly on environmental grounds. Such ongoing resistance poses a significant policy compliance challenge. This paper seeks to shed light on this complex, ongoing and broader field of opposition to environmental management by way of a case study analysis of resistance to on-board sewage regulations on the part of recreational boaters in Queensland, Australia. This resistance on the part of ‘everyday’ citizens is examined through the lens of heterotopia. In consequence, the paper can contribute to understandings more broadly of problems beleaguering environmental policy while also attending to the deeply implicated social roles of recreational boating spaces; namely as heterotopias of compensation and/or illusion. It also highlights how these heterotopic positionings are intensified by the scatological orientation of the policy under study.

Quantifying the trade in marine ornamental fishes into Switzerland and an estimation of imports from the European Union

Biondo MV. Quantifying the trade in marine ornamental fishes into Switzerland and an estimation of imports from the European Union. Global Ecology and Conservation [Internet]. 2017 ;11:95 - 105. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S235198941730094X
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Millions of marine ornamental fishes are traded every year. Today, over half of the known nearly 4000 coral reef fish species are in trade with poor or no monitoring and demand is increasing. This study investigates their trade into and through Switzerland by analyzing import documents for live animals. In 2009, 151 import declarations with attached species lists for marine ornamental fishes from non-EU countries totaled 28 356 specimens. The 62% of the fishes remaining in Switzerland, comprised 440 marine species from 45 families, the rest transited to EU and non-EU countries. Despite the recognized large trade volume for the European region, due to bilateral agreements, no data is collected for imports from the EU. However, inferred data shows that more than 200 000 marine ornamental fishes could be imported into Switzerland every year and an unknown quantity re-exported. As biggest import region, it is therefore safe to assume, that the European region is importing at least as many marine ornamental fishes as the US. There is no adequate data-collecting system known to be in place in any country for monitoring this trade. The EU Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) to monitor animal diseases could be adjusted to gather compulsory information for the EU and Switzerland. More than half of the species imported into Switzerland are not assessed by the IUCN and therefore marked as ‘not evaluated’ on the Red List. Overall, 70% of all known coral reef fish species have not been evaluated. If coral reef fishes are threatened or endangered due to large, possibly unsustainable numbers traded, it may be rational to monitor the trade in these species through the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).

Quantitative tools for implementing the new definition of significant portion of the range in the Endangered Species Act

Earl JE, Nicol S, Wiederholt R, Diffendorfer JE, Semmens D, Flockhart DTTyler, Mattsson BJ, McCracken G, D. Norris R, Thogmartin WE, et al. Quantitative tools for implementing the new definition of significant portion of the range in the Endangered Species Act. Conservation Biology [Internet]. 2017 . Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12963/abstract
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $38.00
Type: Journal Article

In July 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service announced a new policy interpretation for the Endangered Species Act. According to the Act, a species must be listed as threatened or endangered if it is determined to be threatened or endangered in a significant portion of its range. The 1973 law does not define “significant portion of its range,” leading to concerns that interpretations of “significant” by federal agencies and the courts could be inconsistent. The 2014 policy seeks to provide consistency by establishing that a portion of the range should be considered significant if the associated individuals’ “removal would cause the entire species to become endangered or threatened.” Here, we review quantitative techniques to assess whether a portion of a species’ range is significant according to the new guidance. Our assessments are based on the “3R” criteria – Redundancy (i.e., buffering from catastrophe), Resiliency (i.e., ability to withstand stochasticity), and Representation (i.e., ability to evolve) – that the Fish and Wildlife Service uses to determine if a species merits listing. We identify data needs for each quantitative technique and indicate which methods might be implemented given the data limitations typical of rare species. We also identify proxies that may be used with limited data. To assess potential data availability, we evaluate seven example species by assessing the data in their Species Status Assessments, which document all the information used during a listing decision. Our evaluation suggests that resiliency assessments will likely be most constrained by limited data. While we reviewed quantitative techniques for the US Endangered Species Act, other countries have legislation requiring identification of significant areas that could benefit from this research.

Fishing for leadership: The role diversification plays in facilitating change agents

Stoll JS. Fishing for leadership: The role diversification plays in facilitating change agents. Journal of Environmental Management [Internet]. 2017 ;199:74 - 82. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479717304693
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $41.95
Type: Journal Article

Leadership is often viewed as being critical to successful natural resource management. This research focuses on a set of leaders identified through a social network analysis of fishers in a rural coastal region. Leaders' connections to different fisheries are evaluated, and these actors are found to be significantly more diversified than other fishers in the area. Drawing on theory related to institutional entrepreneurship and a series of in-depth interviews with these actors, this paper puts forward several hypotheses to explain how diverse social-ecological connections facilitate leadership. Three mechanisms are identified. Being diversified facilitates: (1) production of alternative visions; (2) framing of tractable strategies to sustain local marine resource; and (3) participation in the management process. While more research is needed to understand the relationship between diversification and leadership, these exploratory results suggest that leadership is, in part, a manifestation of ecological circumstance, supporting recent assertions that scholarship on leadership in natural resource management settings could benefit from being more attentive to the processes that shape leadership rather than fixating on individuals and their personal attributes. Given that fisheries policies increasingly constrain diversification, policymakers and managers should consider how specialization of fishers might change the form and function of leaders in the future.

Untangling Academic Publishing: A history of the relationship between commercial interests, academic prestige and the circulation of research

Fyfe A, Coate K, Curry S, Lawson S, Moxham N, Røstvik CMørk. Untangling Academic Publishing: A history of the relationship between commercial interests, academic prestige and the circulation of research. Zenodo; 2017. Available from: https://zenodo.org/record/546100#.WSb23jdlBhE
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report

Since the Second World War, academic publishing practices have had to cope with enormous changes in the scale of the research enterprise, in the culture and management of higher education, and in the ecosystem of scholarly publishers. The pace of change has been particularly rapid in the last twenty-five years, thanks to digital technologies. This has also been a time of growing divergence between the different roles of academic publishing: as a means of disseminating validated knowledge, as a form of symbolic capital for academic career progression, and as a profitable business enterprise.

This briefing paper aims to provide a historical perspective that can inform the debates about what the future of academic publishing should look like. We argue that current policy regarding open access publishing, and many of the other proposals for the reform of academic publishing, have been too focused on the opportunities and financial challenges of the most recent changes in digital communications technologies and have given undue weight to commercial concerns.

We show that the business practices and the cultural significance of academic publishing have been significantly transformed since the late nineteenth century as increasing government funding drove the expansion and professionalization of the research community, a process that accelerated rapidly after the Second World War. We examine how academic publishing practices have responded to the increasing number of researchers and publications worldwide, the changing expectations of academic workloads and outputs in the higher education sector, and the new business models in the publishing industry. A key phenomenon has been the growing importance of published works as career-defining tokens of prestige for academics. Although the new technologies that emerged in the late twentieth century offer great potential for improving the speed and efficiency of scholarly communication, the publishing model has been relatively slow to change.

The key themes of this briefing paper are:

  • the business of academic publishing
  • the role of publishing in academic careers
  • and the tangled and changing relationship between them.

Facial appearance affects science communication

Gheorghiu AI, Callan MJ, Skylark WJ. Facial appearance affects science communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [Internet]. 2017 :201620542. Available from: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/05/16/1620542114.abstract.html?etoc
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

First impressions based on facial appearance predict many important social outcomes. We investigated whether such impressions also influence the communication of scientific findings to lay audiences, a process that shapes public beliefs, opinion, and policy. First, we investigated the traits that engender interest in a scientist’s work, and those that create the impression of a “good scientist” who does high-quality research. Apparent competence and morality were positively related to both interest and quality judgments, whereas attractiveness boosted interest but decreased perceived quality. Next, we had members of the public choose real science news stories to read or watch and found that people were more likely to choose items that were paired with “interesting-looking” scientists, especially when selecting video-based communications. Finally, we had people read real science news items and found that the research was judged to be of higher quality when paired with researchers who look like “good scientists.” Our findings offer insights into the social psychology of science, and indicate a source of bias in the dissemination of scientific findings to broader society.

Connecting animal and human cognition to conservation

Marzluff JM, Swift KN. Connecting animal and human cognition to conservation. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences [Internet]. 2017 ;16:87 - 92. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352154616302273
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $31.50
Type: Journal Article

Expanding human populations favors a few species while extinguishing and endangering many others (Maxwell et al., 2016; Pimm et al., 2014). Understanding how animals perceive and learn about dangers and rewards can aid conservationists seeking to limit abundant or restore rare species (Schakner and Blumstein, 2016; Greggor et al., 2014; Angeloni et al., 2008; Fernández-Juricic and Schulte, 2016). Cognition research is informing conservation science by suggesting how naïve prey learn novel predators (Griffin et al., 2000; Moseby et al., 2015; Schakner et al., 2016; Blumstein, 2016), the mechanisms underlying variation in tolerance of human disturbance (Bostwick et al., 2014), and when natural aversions and fear learning can be leveraged to humanely control predators (Nielsen et al., 2015; Colman et al., 2014; Norbury et al., 2014; Lance et al., 2010; Cross et al., 2013). Insights into the relationships between cognition and adaptability suggest that behavioral inflexibility often presages species rarity (Amiel et al., 2011; Reif et al., 2011; Sol et al., 2008; Zhang et al., 2014; but see Kellert, 1984). Human compassion and restraint are ultimately required to conserve species. Cognitive science can therefore further inform conservation by revealing the complex inner worlds of the animals we threaten and, in partnership with environmental psychologists, explore how such newfound knowledge affects our empathy for other species and ultimately the public’s actions on behalf of species in need of conservation (Collado et al., 2013; Zhang et al., 2014).

The Portuguese plastic carrier bag tax: The effects on consumers’ behavior

Martinho G, Balaia N, Pires A. The Portuguese plastic carrier bag tax: The effects on consumers’ behavior. Waste Management [Internet]. 2017 ;61:3 - 12. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956053X17300223
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $35.95
Type: Journal Article

Marine litter from lightweight plastic bags is a global problem that must be solved. A plastic bag tax was implemented in February 2015 to reduce the consumption of plastic grocery bags in Portugal and in turn reduce the potential contribution to marine litter. This study analyzes the effect of the plastic bag tax on consumer behavior to learn how it was received and determine the perceived effectiveness of the tax 4 months after its implementation. In addition, the study assessed how proximity to coastal areas could influence behaviors and opinions. The results showed a 74% reduction of plastic bag consumption with a simultaneously 61% increase of reusable plastic bags after the tax was implemented. Because plastic bags were then reused for shopping instead of garbage bags, however, the consumption of garbage bags increased by 12%. Although reduction was achieved, the tax had no effect on the perception of marine litter or the impact of plastic bags on environment and health. The majority of respondents agree with the tax but view it as an extra revenue to the State. The distance to the coast had no meaningful influence on consumer behavior or on the perception of the tax. Although the tax was able to promote the reduction of plastics, the role of hypermarkets and supermarkets in providing alternatives through the distribution of reusable plastic bags was determinant to ensuring the reduction.

The value of virtual conferencing for ecology and conservation

Fraser H, Soanes K, Jones SA, Jones CS, Malishev M. The value of virtual conferencing for ecology and conservation. Conservation Biology [Internet]. 2017 ;31(3):540 - 546. Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12837/full
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

The objectives of conservation science and dissemination of its research create a paradox: Conservation is about preserving the environment, yet scientists spread this message at conferences with heavy carbon footprints. Ecology and conservation science depend on global knowledge exchange—getting the best science to the places it is most needed. However, conference attendance from developed countries typically outweighs that from developing countries that are biodiversity and conservation hotspots. If any branch of science should be trying to maximize participation while minimizing carbon emissions, it is conservation. Virtual conferencing is common in other disciplines, such as education and humanities, but it is surprisingly underused in ecology and conservation. Adopting virtual conferencing entails a number of challenges, including logistics and unified acceptance, which we argue can be overcome through planning and technology. We examined 4 conference models: a pure-virtual model and 3 hybrid hub-and-node models, where hubs stream content to local nodes. These models collectively aim to mitigate the logistical and administrative challenges of global knowledge transfer. Embracing virtual conferencing addresses 2 essential prerequisites of modern conferences: lowering carbon emissions and increasing accessibility for remote, time- and resource-poor researchers, particularly those from developing countries.

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