SCB Marine Section Policy Committee Activities
The way the Society for Conservation Biology engages on policy issues has been evolving over 2014 and 2015, and the Marine Section is no different. The past year saw the Marine Section Policy Committee formalized, with official members, protocols and procedures. The Marine Section and SCB Global both independently decided that we needed to make the work of these groups more visible to the membership. This collection of activities is the result of these intentions.
Since its conception, the Marine Section has engaged, both alone and as part of SCB Global, on numerous policy issues. Although sporadic at first, a loosely-formed Marine Section Policy Committee began in 2012, eventually becoming formalized in late 2014. Prior to this more official status, the loosely organised Policy Committee consisted mainly of marine mammal specialists, leading to a bias in matters relating to this taxonomic group. However, since formalization, the Policy Committee has a wider range of expertise and interests, and future actions are expected to follow this broadening of attentions.
All SCB Marine Section-led actions since the end of 2012 are presented below and discussed in more detail at the links provided.
- Sep 2015 - A letter to Brazil's Minister of the Environment and Minister of Fisheries and Aquiculture regarding the suspension of protections for endangered fish species (Portugese version)
- Jul 2015 - A letter to ACCOBAMS Permanent Secretariat on marine mammal observers and seismic guidelines in the ACCOBAMS area (More information from the Policy Committee)
- Jun 2015 - A letter to Oak Island, North Carolina, and state officials on responses to shark bites. (More information from the Policy Committee)
- Mar 2015 – Update: SCB supports gillnet ban for the benefit of the vaquita, an important first step towards the conservation of the smallest cetacean species
- Oct 2014 – The NOAA / USCG letter on ship noise.
- Oct 2014 – The Rockefeller foundation letter on oil funds. (More information from the Policy Committee)
- Sep 2014 – A letter to Discovery Channel regarding misleading the public. (More information from the Policy Committee)
- Jul 2014 – A letter to Sigourney Weaver congratulating her on her ocean conservation blog piece.
- Jul 2014 – A letter to Tesla on dropping their patents to encourage more electric cars. (More information from the Policy Committee)
- Mar 2014 – Comments on the NOAA noise exposure criteria.
- Jan 2014 – A letter to the Spanish government concerning oil development in the Canaries. (Spanish version)
- Jul 2013 – A letter concerning Slovenia's responsibilities under ACCOBAMS to fund cetacean research.
- Dec 2012 – A shorter version of the vaquita letter piece. (Spanish version) (Updated information and SCBMarine Save the Vaquita page)
In addition to these efforts, the Marine Section Policy Committee has continued to work more generally on vaquita conservation in various fora. Numerous strategy meetings were held in 2014 with the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, the Zoological Society of London and various scientists working on the recovery team. The year 2014 also saw the launch of a new kind of conservation initiative: the Facebook page VaquitaAreBrowncoats. This Facebook page attempts to reach out to a new audience, in this case the fans of the Firefly series and the Serenity film, with information on vaquita conservation mixed in with fan-related material. The Policy Committee also started the Marine Section's Save the Vaquita initiative. Furthermore, the Marine Section has been supporting the work of the SCB Oceania Section on several marine conservation issues that have arisen in Australia over the past year.
Finally, we should highlight a notable change in Marine Section policy in 2014. It was decided that the Marine Section should begin writing not only critical letters and documents, but also supportive letters to those taking steps to improve ocean health and advance marine conservation issues. This idea was strengthened at the International Marine Conservation Congress in Glasgow, Scotland, August 2014, where keynote speaker Heather Koldewey (ZSL and Project Seahorse) championed #OceanOptimism. We sincerely hope to have more opportunities to celebrate #OceanOptimism going forward into the following years!
If you have a policy issue that you believe the Marine Section should be engaged on, please email Marine Policy Committee Officer Angela Bednarek with details of the issue and the action that you are proposing.