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Scientists from around the world will present the latest in marine conservation research and practice at the 4th International Marine Conservation Congress in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada (YYT). In addition to symposia, focus groups, workshops, contributed talks, speed presentations, and poster presentations, IMCC4 will also feature select panel discussions on current events. More panel discussions may be added soon.

Panel Discussions

Solving marine conservation problems using all available tools

  • Organizers: S.M. Alexander, National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center/Stockholm Resilience Centre; N. Bennett, University of British Columbia/University of Washington
  • ID: PD17
  • Time: August 2 8:30-10:30am
  • Room: Salon D

It has become de rigueur to claim that we need more interdisciplinary conservation science. Conservation solutions, it is argued, can be produced via a pluralistic approach – drawing on numerous natural and social science disciplines, along with their associated theories, methods, and tools. Yet, we are lacking in real-world examples of using interdisciplinary science to solve conservation problems. In this symposium, we aim to link the theory and conduct of interdisciplinary conservation science with policies and actions that will matter. The symposium will start with an informal panel of scientists who will reflect on their experiences and present examples of successful engagements with interdisciplinary conservation science. This will be then be followed by an interactive session whereby audience members will be invited to pitch real world conservation dilemmas to the panelists, asking them for insights on how to use all available tools to solve these problems. Our aim is to create a space for interdisciplinary exploration, dialogue, and problem solving using an innovative symposium format.

Transcending Cecil: Harnessing public outrage for marine conservation

  • Organizers: Andrew Wright, George Mason University; Mel Cosentino, Wild Earth Foundation; Naomi Rose, Animal Welfare Institute
  • ID: PD40
  • Time: August 2 1:15-2:45pm (lunchtime)
  • Room: Salon C

The death of Cecil the lion sparked massive public backlash against his hunter, while vaquita numbers dropped dangerously with little fanfare. Likewise, the Copenhagen zoo was villainised for euthanising Marius the giraffe while northern white rhino numbers quietly fell to just 3 animals. While some animal welfare organisations used these events to solicit donations and other actions, most conservation scientists floundered. Some tried, and failed, to redirect public interest towards bigger, albeit unrelated, problems (e.g., climate change). Some even, out of frustration, belittled those who were outraged. Education was also attempted, such as highlighting the destruction of suitable habitat for free-ranging giraffes. However, for the most part, the public did not focus on wider and related issues. The deaths of individual animals can bring attention to wildlife and habitat issues: a much-needed commodity in marine conservation, which typically lies beyond the public's daily experience. When public interest is peaked, strategies are needed for harnessing that interest for marine conservation. Channelling public energy and attention toward achieving wider conservation goals is crucial. By planning a response in advance of the next wildlife outrage, we can make the most of a bad situation. Should Migaloo the whale or Fungie the dolphin become the next Cecil, we may be able to leverage public outcry to make some advances on wider marine conservation issues. While we have no control over when or where the next Marius or Cecil will occur, conservation will benefit more if there is a plan in place for how we should react beforehand. This panel discussion will thus be open, with brief remarks from each panel member on the topic. These remarks will be followed by a free-flowing debate over the possible options open to marine and other conservation practitioners for nudging such individual-animal-focused concern into broader conservation directions (e.g., changing calls to shut down zoos to volunteering for a wildlife conservation organisation). We thus hope to develop a play-book for conservation scientists to refer to on occasions when specific wildlife events have captured the public interest. We expect to discuss strategies to channel such individual-focused anger and outrage into productive conservation endeavours.

Shark & Ray Conservation 2.0: Threading the needle on science, conservation, and policy into the next decade
Organizers: Rick MacPherson, Pelagia Consulting

  • ID: PD41
  • Time: August 3 8:30-10:30am
  • Room: Salon B

Sharks and their flat relatives the rays remain some of the most iconic yet globally threatened marine species. The past decade has witnessed a tremendous uptick in elasmobranch science, management options, conservation interventions, and policy action. Tempting though it may be to construct a narrative of data, planning, and collaboration driving much of current elasmobranch conservation, the reality might be closer to one of conservation gains despite infighting, acrimony, obstructionism, and divergent priorities. Imagine what wins might have been accomplished through better alignment. This symposium proposes to convene thought leaders in contemporary shark and ray science, conservation, as well as decision makers to reflect on past gains, warts and all, to identify not only success factors but where opportunities were missed. Importantly, panelists will collectively look forward to how the next decade of elasmobranch conservation strategy can galvanize global attention, break through the status quo of current approaches, and propose a landscape of conservation that matches the urgency and realities of the preservation of charismatic species.