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SAMS Policy Master Class – Stefanie Broszeit

Published: 06 March 2015

Dr Stefanie Broszeit (Marine ecosystem services researcher at Plymouth Marine Laboratory, working in the 'Linking macroecology and models to ecosystem services' MERP module) recently attended a workshop on policy and marine science and has described her experience in the below article.

I went to Oban for a four day workshop on policy and marine science organised by the Scottish Association of Marine Science and funded through NERC. The idea for the course had come from Lawrence Mee, former head of science of SAMS. The 15 participants consisted of PhDs, postdocs and young researchers that spanned research from marine ecology to marine legislation.

The course began with several talks by Jake Rice and Ian Boyd, as well as Sam Burgess on how to communicate with the minister. Ian Boyd spoke mostly of his experience as chief scientific advisor at DEFRA. He explained some principles of communication to ‘get the message across’. This was further elaborated by Jake Rice, Sam Burgess and was a recurring theme throughout the course. Jake Rice also spoke about communicating with stakeholders and how to keep communication going when for example fishermen and conservationists have polar opinions. Another subject related to communication was the crucial approach of communicating uncertainty and this was also discussed by Mike Burrows and Paul Tett. They showed examples of communicating uncertainty, such as the IPCC approach. Simon Reddy, Executive Secretary of the Global Ocean Commission explained the importance of discussing ocean issues not only with marine scientists (preaching to the choir) but with finance ministers and economists to gain credibility and to raise international awareness for ocean issues.
The divergence and slow convergence of biodiversity conservation and fisheries management were demonstrated by Jake Rice. Ian Boyd, working for DEFRA showed that it is possible that these two strands can be converged as shown in DEFRA though the process is still ongoing. The Ecosystem Approach and its pitfalls were described in detail by Jake Rice, Jasper Kenter and Zafar Adeel. Jake Rice showed that on 14 intergovernmental panels whose websites he visited there were 14 different definitions leading to a lack of understanding of the concept.

One day was dedicated to reading and talking about marine law as applies in the EU (MSFD, birds and habitats directives) and UK (Marine and Coastal act, Marine planning Directive). One morning was dedicated to ecosystem services and Jasper Kenter gave examples of his research, such as mangrove and coral reef studies as well as a Scottish case study (Inner Forth). His teaching was complemented by examples given by Zafar Adeel, one writer of the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment. Karen Alexander and Lucy Greenhill then spoke about Marine Spatial Planning and Designer Seas in the EU and Scotland and that it is not a magic bullet but that trade-offs need to be discussed and that MSP does not always work, due to the way it is legislated. As an example she gave Germany where the plans were not thought through to include underwater cables for offshore windfarms for example. The ferry ride to Oban to see renewable energy structures had to be cancelled due to weather but Ben Wilson and Steven Benjamins talked about the Scottish approach to marine renewable energy.

Throughout the course discussions amongst participants were encouraged. A plenary was used to discuss solutions to current marine problems and each lecturer gave his judgement on solutions that could be feasible and useful.


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