September 2016 (9:10)

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Dear MEAM readers,

This issue marks the one-year anniversary of ‘eMEAM’, MEAM’s incarnation as a monthly, all-electronic newsletter. It has been our pleasure to be able to provide you with EBM and ocean planning insights and news coverage more frequently and in an easily-accessible online format. And we hope that you have found recent MEAM coverage thought-provoking and useful for your work.

As always, we can serve you best if you are active participants in and drivers of the information creation and sharing process. Please let us know if there is other information you would like to see covered in MEAM, send us relevant resources you would like to see shared with your colleagues, and share your own expertise and opinions through Letters to the Editor.

You can reach me at meam [at] openchannels.org to discuss any ideas you have for MEAM so that we can better serve the marine community and marine ecosystems together.

Best wishes for your work,

Sarah Carr
MEAM Editor

Sharing information and engaging stakeholders through the internet is an increasingly important part of ocean planners and managers’ work. New ideas and tools for online engagement are emerging daily. But it can be difficult for planners and managers to carve time out of their already busy schedules to keep track of what is out there and take advantage of these new tools and techniques.

In this issue of MEAM, we cover highlights from the OceansOnline conference held in August 2016 in conjunction with the 4th International Marine Conservation Congress. Social media experts and practitioners who are successfully using internet tools for their work provided attendees (and now MEAM readers!) with great tips for engaging online. And we explore some of the innovative uses of the internet that we heard about at OceansOnline – ranging from live broadcasts of fisheries management meetings to fishermen at sea to experiential social media campaigns using Instagram - for communicating, bridging boundaries, and conducting research.

Incorporating digital storytelling in marine science outreach and communication

By Lisa Tossey

Editor’s Note: Lisa Tossey is the social media community manger and editor for the National Marine Educators Association. She also supports Delaware Sea Grant’s digital outreach and social media channels as part of her doctoral studies on the use of educational technology in marine science at the University of Delaware. She can be reached on email at tossey [at] udel.edu and on Twitter at @tossey.

Storytelling is an ancient art that helps forge meaningful connections between communicators and their audiences. It is constantly evolving – from cave paintings to printed pieces to the Internet – as new tools become available. Today, thanks to emerging digital technologies, we now have a dizzying amount of tools at our fingertips to “tell the story” of our work. But which ones are the best for communicating science?

We raised that question at OceansOnline during a facilitated discussion on the topic, and touched on everything from social media platforms, to using images and video in outreach efforts, to embracing new technologies such as virtual reality.

Here are a few ideas and tips from the session:

  • When it comes to social media, you don’t have to do it all! Take some time to “lurk” on various platforms to see how they’re used and what audiences tend to use them, then experiment on a few to see what might be the best fit for your field or organization.
  • Social media isn’t a one-way street – that’s why “social” is in its name! Don’t just use it to push out information – engage with other users and your followers, share information that’s relevant to your field or community, and have fun with it!
  • Images are truly worth 1,000 words online. Images drive engagement and an eye-catching photo, animated gif, or video clip can serve as a great “hook” to grab users’ attention in a sea of social media posts. Photos showing action, hands-on activities, or a detailed view of a critter or landscape can be particularly effective.
  • Post with purpose. You should always be able to connect your social media posts, whether they are a photo, link, or shared information, back to your work or organization’s mission. This helps to build your reputation as a trusted resource in your field.
  • Short format videos that are popular on platforms like Instagram are perfect vehicles for bite-sized, sharable science pieces. Use them to share fun “Did you know…” facts, highlight specific areas of work or critters being studied, or show scientific techniques.
  • And most importantly – don’t be afraid to experiment online. Try something new, assess how it works, tweak your approach if necessary, and try again!

If you’re interested in learning more about this, see this Prezi presentation.


Bringing fishermen to the table: The use of combined tools to facilitate global engagement and secure long-term participation

By Maria Campbell, Edd Hind, Richard Lilley, Laurence Hartwell, and Katrina Borrow

Editor’s note: This contribution was written by Maria Campbell of Plymouth University, Edd Hind of Manchester Metropolitan University, Richard Lilley of Cardiff University, Laurence Hartwell of Truro & Penwith College, and Katrina Borrow of Mindfully Wired Communications. Their group can be reached by email through Maria Campbell at maria.campbell [at] plymouth.ac.uk.

At OceansOnline, our team demonstrated an exciting new technology for engaging fishermen in science and policy discussions. In 2014, Laurence Hartwell – a social media expert and lecturer, former skipper with over 25 years of fishing experience, and creator of Through the Gaps blog, one of the most widely read fisheries blogs – reached out to the marine research community to start a UK-wide dialogue on how to better engage fishermen in organised meetings and conferences. He proposed the use of Bambuser, an online streaming platform, alongside Facebook and Twitter, a setup untried in the context of fisheries. We partnered with Hartwell to pilot this technology and gave it its first test at an international symposium in Barcelona in 2015 for GAP2, an EU-funded project to demonstrate the role and value of stakeholder-driven science in fisheries governance.

The symposium was designed to be a participatory event, and while some fishermen were able to attend the (free) symposium, many were at sea, tending to their vessels, or simply unable to travel to Barcelona. We set up a dedicated station in Newlyn’s Fishermen’s Mission so that UK fishermen from this port, one of the UK’s largest, could watch the symposium live. Over the two days of broadcasting, there were more than 300 total views – more than double the in-person attendance at the symposium. We also received questions from online participants and contributed them to live panel discussions. The success of this first trial led to the Bambuser-Facebook-Twitter setup being used again for meetings and conferences on the Common Fisheries Policy and for Marine Scotland's Fisheries Management and Conservation Group and Fisheries Innovation Scotland.

OceansOnline afforded our team the opportunity to showcase this technology to others working in marine science. Two of us facilitated at OceansOnline while three others drove questions on Bambuser and social media from their respective locations across the UK. We had 48 live participants including eight fishermen who found out about the event via Twitter, a representative from the UK’s Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority, and fisheries researchers working with small, indigenous and large-scale fisheries around the world. We encountered internet and sound issues, but the chat function in Bambuser enabled us to receive questions and respond. A key outcome was agreement that the technology is applicable and useful for increasing representation and two-way engagement of fishermen at conferences and meetings and offers exciting opportunities for fisheries management.


Instagram is the new IMAX: Communicating ocean science through experiential social media campaigns

By Kat Middleton

Editor’s note: Kat Middleton is a science communications specialist at Laurentian University with experience in marine planning and protected area management. She can be reached at katmiddleton [at] gmail.com or on Twitter at @katmidds.

While I was growing up, IMAX films were the most exciting science learning experiences a person could have. But now, visual content such as 360 degree panoramic footage and videos and SnapChat stories are available in the palm of our hands on our mobile devices. So, if giant screens like IMAX were once an important part of the science learning landscape, can mobile screens now play that same role?

I believe that, yes, social media applications can indeed be effective tools for science communication. One of the most engaging campaigns I’ve seen that is already bringing science education to people around the world is National Geographic’s Into the Okavango Instagram. The account follows scientific explorers through the African wilderness while sharing photos, videos, and audio recordings of their journey to followers in real-time. Content generally follows a narrative structure while using high quality images and storytelling captions. The use of first-person videos, vlogging, and mini-documentaries allow followers to feel like they are part of the scientific expedition. Stories focus on passionate scientists who share their raw and emotional experiences in real-time. They encourage followers to get involved by commenting on their posts throughout their journey. Like miniature interactive IMAX experiences, these posts catch audiences in fleeting moments and can be used to draw them deeper into science communication.

At my facilitated discussion at OceansOnline, participants agreed that Instagram has significant potential as an outreach tool for their research projects. Some of the concerns attendees expressed were the potential difficulties of uploading images and videos in real-time on the water and the time commitment and skill level needed to pursue an experiential social media campaign, particularly on a shoestring budget. As a reply to these concerns, Sri Lankan marine biologist Asha de Vos discussed her experience using Instagram on a tight budget and under time constraints in remote settings. She uses Instagram as her main outreach tool for her research in Sri Lanka and told others to try it and put themselves out there. I too encourage marine scientists to try using Instagram as a means of public engagement using some of the experiential techniques described above. Start your own mobile IMAX experience and bring others into the world of marine science.


Balancing science communication and science: Achieving effective outreach when it’s not in your job description

By Susan von Thun

Editor’s note: Susan von Thun is a senior research technician at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Her primary responsibility is identifying and annotating organisms, behaviors, equipment and geological features from the institute’s ROV videos. In addition, she manages the institute’s Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube accounts. She can be reached by email at svonthun [at] mbari.org and on Twitter at @omgirlsvt.

With advances in technology rapidly changing the way we understand and navigate our world, effective science communication (scicomm) has never been more important. Helping the public realize the impacts humans have on the environment is critical as we face increasing threats to the ocean such as climate change, ocean acidification, habitat destruction, pollution, and overfishing. Social media has emerged as a tool that makes it possible to reach thousands, even millions, of people with relative ease, but how can scientists leverage their stretched resources to reach these massive new audiences? The passion scientists have for their research is key to sparking public attention as to why marine science matters. But many scientists struggle with the time-consuming undertaking of regularly engaging audiences to build a following and influence the masses.

With a growing number of peer-reviewed publications examining the value of using social media in scicomm, many scientists are already convinced of the benefits. Using social media is a great way to hone your message by allowing you to practice your elevator pitch, i.e., distilling your science into bite-sized, compelling stories that will grab the reader/viewer/listener and spread your research to a wider audience. Yet in research institutes and academia, the use of social media is rarely prioritized by those in supervisory roles. Students and early career scientists may be expected to do their own scicomm with little help from their institutions, forcing them to do this work on their “free time” versus “work time”.

As young scientists attain leadership roles, priorities with scicomm will inevitably change. But we are at a turning point, where scientists excelling at scicomm must be good examples for their peers, letting the practice prove itself. It is hard to ignore a peer-reviewed paper when it gets picked up by the media and goes viral on the internet. While tenure committees may still put the most value on publication records and impact factors, the ability to track a paper’s reach on the internet through tools like altmetrics will help institutions see the value in scicomm. In this ever-changing media landscape, scientists who are willing and able to ride the wave of social media will see the benefits, and so too will their institutes.

See the live-tweets from the OceansOnline session on Storify.


Fostering marine-freshwater conservation collaborations using Twitter and other social media

By Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley

Editor’s note: Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley is a postdoctoral researcher studying the impacts of multiple human-induced stressors on Europe’s freshwater biodiversity and conservation priorities at Université Paul Sabatier. She can be reached by email at stephierenee [at] gmail.com or on Twitter at @ConnectedWaters.

Marine and freshwater ecosystems are highly connected both naturally and with regard to human uses and disturbances. Why then do marine and freshwater conservation scientists seem to be disconnected from each other when it comes to research and conservation? It could be because there are few institutions or programs that have joint marine-freshwater research programs or because it is difficult to consider cross-system movements of materials, nutrients, species, humans, and disturbances from a conservation perspective. With limited opportunities for interaction within institutions, how then can marine and freshwater conservation scientists begin to come together to build relationships and collaborations and solve common problems such as water quality degradation and corresponding loss of ecosystem services?

In our facilitated discussion at OceansOnline, we identified Twitter as a useful social media platform for engaging with scientists both outside of one’s direct research domain as well as further field. I offered an example from a colleague who studied marine systems for her master’s degree but is now working on freshwater ecosystems for her doctorate degree. She started using Twitter as a way to “get to know” freshwater researchers in her new study area and learn more about the types of research and methods that freshwater researchers in her area are doing and using. I recommend that marine and freshwater researchers wanting to start engaging with the other community start by using Twitter to retweet critical freshwater science research using hashtags that marine scientists commonly use and vice versa.

While Twitter is a great tool for building relationships, and collaborations, across boundaries, we also discussed the need for scientists to have a strategy and clearly defined goals for maximizing the potential for social media to reach out to scientists (or indeed achieve any other aspirations they have for social media). Social media can seem nebulous if you don’t have a strategy or goals for why you are using it. For scientists interested in learning more about setting goals and objectives for social media, I recommend a recent blog-post by Dr Paige Brown Jarreau (@FromTheLabBench on Twitter).

To close, reaching out to others across defined disciplines can be intimidating but can also result in rewarding relationships. As a freshwater scientist, I learned a lot from attending IMCC4 and engaging with marine scientists. I hope that sharing our discussions offers some inspiration and guidance to help foster more marine-freshwater collaborations. Go forth and collaborate!

By Tundi Agardy, Contributing Editor, MEAM. Email: tundiagardy [at] earthlink.net

Long Island Sound, on the east coast of the US, is filled with paradox. The country’s priciest estates line part of its shores, while urban and industrial blight scar other areas. To the west, the metropolis of New York City and its suburbs have transformed once fertile salt marshes into near wastelands, while on its eastern side, the Sound opens up to some of the most fertile pelagic areas in the region. Long Island waters are a playground for the yachting rich, but also support some of the oldest fishing communities in the country. This semi-enclosed sea is at once a symbol of over-use and misuse and a productive and diverse ecosystem complex.

Still, Long Island Sound seems an unlikely place to find a true ocean champion or a demonstration of futuristic EBM. Yet it was there that I had the opportunity to meet Brendan Smith, the founder of GreenWave 3D Ocean Farming and a man on his way to changing the world. Bren had been asked by a fellow pioneering aquaculturist and ocean hero – Dr. Steve Malinowski of Fishers Island Oyster Farm – to give a talk at the Henry L. Ferguson Museum on Fishers Island. Neither I nor the rest of the audience were prepared to be blown away – not only by what Bren had to say, but by what he has been able to accomplish in this complicated cauldron of ocean issues that is Long Island Sound.

Bren’s path to Long Island Sound makes for its own great story, but I would like to focus on why GreenWave’s work is a demonstration of where EBM may be heading in the future if we’re lucky. Suffice it to say that Bren was once a commercial fisher with little regard for sustainability – he admits to pillaging the oceans before his epiphany. When circumstances forced him to try his hand at being an oysterman in Long Island Sound and then two successive hurricanes wiped out his operation, Bren decided to invest his substantial energies in innovation. He anticipated that climate change would result in ever more frequent, intense storms, so he designed hurricane-proof moorings for his aquaculture lines. He then decided to scale down his farming in terms of acreage covered and scale up his production by thinking three dimensionally and maximizing the space he used. Working with ecologists and biologists, he drew up plans for maximizing what you could grow in a small volume of ocean water, in a way that would not only produce fisheries products but also deliver ecosystem services.

Creating multi-use, polyculture farms

GreenWave’s polyculture farms produce primarily macroalgae and shellfish, in combinations most suitable to the circumstances of the place and social conditions. In Long Island Sound, the optimal combination seems to be kelp, mussels, oysters, scallops, and clams. Kelp are the structural component of the farm, providing nutrients and shade and capturing excessive carbon dioxide as well as filtering the water of contaminants. In polluted areas, such as around New Haven, Connecticut, with its heavy industrial and urban inputs, kelp can be sold for biofuels, while in cleaner waters, the kelp can be sold as a healthy food product.

Today, GreenWave works with 20 small farms in various stages of development in the Long Island Sound and New England area. But small does not mean marginally productive: a single acre of 3-D farm can produce 10-30 tons of kelp a year and 250,000 pounds of shellfish. Bren is able to come to scale (as investors are demanding) not by creating enormous, single purpose aquaculture operations, but by helping to create small, multi-use polyculture farms dotted across the seascape. The farms do not exclude anyone – boaters can access the water and snorkelers can come to see the teeming life. Bren thinks of this less as farming the sea and more as restoring the sea – and helping fishers and coastal communities in the process.

Making money while also improving ecological and socio-economic outcomes

The wonder of 3-D farming is not that it simultaneously addresses overfishing, climate change, water quality, and community well-being – nor that it succeeds in delivering to market not only fisheries products but also fertilizer, animal feed, cosmetic ingredients, and biofuels. The revolution that GreenWave is spearheading is the phenomenon of the private sector catalyzing successful enterprises that deliver both ecological and socio-economic outcomes. Remember, Bren Smith is not an academic, nor a resource manager, nor an environmentalist. Yet his nascent company works with dozens of fledging aquaculturists and provides information to countless more through his commitment to open source how-to manuals. Bren is proud to say that with $20,000, and a boat, anyone can start a 3-D farm that produces quality products without the need for freshwater, fertilizer, or pesticides.

Bren’s companies are lucrative and are changing the way we think about seafood while the philanthropic branch of GreenWave works with those wishing to start farms by helping them secure both startup funding and permits and by providing technical support and seed stock. GreenWave has built a Seafood Hub in Fair Haven, Connecticut, and it is working with universities, high end restaurants, and even the technology giant Google to transform kelp and other seaweeds from additives in processed food to nutrient- and flavor-rich stars of the dinner plate.

So how is this EBM?

Okay, it's a nice story, you say, but how is this EBM? To which I would say, GreenWave is the poster child for EBM, demonstrating fully all five principles of EBM: recognizing connections, taking an ecosystem perspective, addressing cumulative impacts, managing for multiple use, and learning/adapting. The individually-designed polyculture at each 3D farm builds on the ecological connections between all the farmed elements and the environment in which the farm is situated. And by its very nature, small-scale 3D farming recognizes and capitalizes on the connection between ocean health and human well-being. Since the farms are designed to remove excessive carbon dioxide, maintain water quality, maintain fisheries production, increase biodiversity, and offer opportunities for people to enjoy cultural values, GreenWave farms are all about delivering ecosystem services.

Finally, as an innovator, Bren leads his team to experiment and learn quickly from both failures and successes. GreenWave farms, and the advice being given to aspiring 3D farmers around the US and the world, are constantly innovating and improving. Not bad for a guy who barely finished high school and spent years mindlessly overfishing, right?

Editor's note: The goal of The EBM Toolbox is to promote awareness of tools for facilitating EBM and MSP processes. It is brought to you by the EBM Tools Network, a voluntary alliance of tool users, developers, and training providers.

The EBM Tools Network recently responded to a question about tools people have used to evaluate cumulative impacts from multiple human activities qualitatively, quantitatively, and/or spatially. Network members provided a number of great resources. Some of the more broadly applicable tools and resources Network members have used include:

If you have a question about tools and resources for coastal and marine conservation and management that you would like to ask the EBM Tools Network, join their free discussion list at https://list.openchannels.org/mailman/listinfo/ebmtools_discuss and post your question to ebmtools_discuss [at] list.openchannels.org.

First Nations and British Columbia sign marine plan implementation agreements

The Canadian province of British Columbia and 17 coastal First Nations (indigenous peoples of Canada) have signed implementation agreements for the marine plans collaboratively developed by the Marine Planning Partnership (MaPP) for the North Pacific Coast. Plans were developed for four sub-regions: the Central Coast, Haida Gwaii, North Coast, and North Vancouver Island. The marine plans were completed in 2015 and include recommendations for marine management, uses, and activities to balance stewardship and economic development. The marine plans do not address management of uses and activities that the Province considers to be federal government jurisdiction, but First Nations and the Province are committed to working with the federal government on those issues. Read a press release about the signing of the implementation agreements and view overviews and full copies of the four plans. Read past MEAM coverage about the development of the MaPP marine plans.


South Africa requests comments on draft MSP framework

The South African Ministry of Environmental Affairs has published a draft MSP framework and requests comments on it by 18 September 2016. The framework provides a guide for MSP in South Africa’s ocean territory, including high-level direction for MSP legislation, policies, and integration with existing planning regimes. The framework is intended to facilitate the development, implementation, monitoring and revision of marine area plans throughout the country. Read the draft framework and information on how to send comments.


EU agrees to new deep-sea fisheries regulations

The EU has reached a deal on new deep-sea fisheries regulations. Measures agreed to include a prohibition on bottom trawling below 800 meters in EU waters in the northeast Atlantic and a requirement that areas of the seabed below 400 meters where vulnerable marine ecosystems are known or likely to occur be closed to bottom fishing unless they can be managed to prevent significant adverse impacts. The new provisions are intended to protect fragile marine ecosystems on the deep seabed. A plenary vote by the European Parliament on the measures is anticipated for November. Read the press release from the European Parliament. And view an infographic from the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition and Bloom Association giving their assessment of how the new regulations compare to existing EU deep-sea regulations and UN General Assembly resolutions.


New frameworks provide guidance for Pacific Island deep-sea mineral development

The EU and Pacific Community (SPC) have released guidance for Pacific Island countries developing policy, legislation, and regulations for deep-sea minerals development. One framework provides an overview of deep-sea mineral deposit environments; potential environmental impacts of deep-sea mining projects; management and mitigation strategies; and an environmental impact assessment report template. The other framework, prepared in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund through the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre, provides an overview of key issues in the financial management of revenues and wealth associated with the potential development of deep-sea minerals. Access the environmental management framework and the financial framework for deep-sea mineral exploration and exploitation.


NOAA assesses use and potential use of ecosystem service valuation

The NOAA Science Advisory Board recently assessed the agency’s use of ecosystem service valuation (ESV) and the state of the field to ensure that the agency is using the most appropriate ESV methods and applying them effectively. Their review of different applications of ESV in the agency and how these applications were used (or not) to inform decisions, and their review of the scientific literature describing ESV methods, may be useful to others considering ESV work. Read the report.


Study finds Eastern Tropical Pacific ecosystem services worth US$17 billion

Scientists from NOAA, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the University of California San Diego Department of Economics have estimated a value of at least US$17 billion for several leading ecosystem services provided by the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean. Services examined include commercial and sport fishing, which were estimated to be worth at least $2.7 and $1.6 billion a year respectively, and the capture and storage of carbon that was estimated to cost at least $12.9 billion annually if not provided by the ocean. Study authors believe these figures are minimums and that true economic values are likely higher. Maps developed for the study show areas where commercial fishing, biodiversity, and recreational fishing often overlap. Access the study.

Editor’s Note: From the Archives calls attention to past MEAM articles whose perspectives and insight remain relevant.

In April 2015, the Marine Planning Partnership for the North Pacific Coast (MaPP) released plans for over 100,000 km2 of the coastal waters of the Canadian province of British Columbia — making it the largest area in North America covered by ocean plans. Learn more from four MaPP team members about the factors that enabled MaPP to successfully negotiate the complex planning process.