Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Science To Action: educating policy makers to initiate ocean conservation

Imagine you are a government official, perhaps in charge of your nation's natural ocean resources, and you are considering how best to manage those resources now and in the future. You might consider Marine Managed Areas (MMAs), also known as MPAs (Marine Protected Areas), as a possible solution. These are zones that regulate and manage activities ranging from commercial fishing to recreational activities to tourism, all with the idea of protecting marine life while producing the least amount of disruption to local economies (or perhaps even enhance those economies).

But you need to be sold on the idea; you need information so that you can formulate at least the first step. Turning to the general populace, you find a wealth of personal opinions and anecdotal accounts - in essence, the moral conscience of why it needs to be considered. Turning to the scientific community, you find copious amounts of facts, figures and complex data. You're a smart man but sometimes listening to the scientific experts requires more attention to detail than you can muster. They seem to have the answers but it needs to be more palatable for you and your other policy-making colleagues to begin formulating initiatives that can successfully work their way through the halls of governmental bureaucracy. You need a well-thought out, readable primer. is an organization dedicated to providing policy makers with the basic information they need to consider and act on the formation of marine managed areas. Realizing that it takes more than raw emotion or arcane data to generate concrete, quantifiable change, Science To Action works closely with a wide array of research, ocean conservation, and NGO organizations to pool data - to translate it as it were - into easily understandable concepts and solutions, made available through a variety of media formats.

From my experiences meeting and working with scientists and discussing progress in ocean conservation with many activists and officials, this is something that I feel very strongly about. People can make a big difference in their personal choices and actions, but having strong policies, such as the formation of MMAs, that by their very nature recognize the commitment of governments to protect the oceans, is critical to the future of the oceans and to many local and national economies. You can't have one without the other. We may not like how governments operate sometimes, but we must kick them off the couch and get them in the game. And to do that we must give them information that is comprehensive, comprehensible, and compelling.

Science To Action has produced a series of publications - booklets that can easily be read (20 pages) in a brief sitting - that explore the issues related to Marine Managed Areas, explaining why MMAs make sense for both man and the oceans.

Their latest publications:
These three booklets are available in PDF form and can be easily downloaded from their website. This is highly recommended reading for all of us. And as you read through them, imagine you are that government official; imagine you are searching for a reason or reasons to make a case for MMAs.

We need personal commitment but we also need government action. is helping to put the information in the hands of decision-makers that will produce proactive steps to insure the preservation of vital ocean resources. Check out their website, it's one that I am bookmarking.

No comments: