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Accepted IMCC5 Symposia

Symposia address critical or cutting-edge marine conservation topics proposed by a facilitator. Symposia talks will be 10 to 12 minutes with time reserved at the end for discussion. Presenters of accepted symposia will be required to submit an individual abstract after the acceptance of the symposium during the regular call for abstracts. A symposium ID will be provided to organizers in the acceptance letter and this ID must also be included in the individual abstract submission to ensure placement in the appropriate symposium. All symposium organizers and speakers must register by the early registration, April 6, 2018. Further details on scheduling, specific times, dates, and locations of accepted symposia will be shared soon so stay tuned for details!


Title: Marine Plan Partnership Implementation story:  four marine spatial plans, five outcome areas, and seventeen indigenous and western governments.

Organizer(s): Ms. Fiona Kilburn, Ms. Meaghan Calcari Campbell

Coinciding with the ground-breaking agreements developed for British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, the Province and 17 First Nations or indigenous governments (the partners) initiated the world’s largest marine planning initiative in 2011, the Marine Planning Partnership for the North Pacific Coast (MaPP). MaPP is an ambitious initiative that used a scientifically rigorous and collaborative approach to advance economic development and conservation in one of the most ecologically significant regions on the planet. 

The partners developed marine spatial plans with objectives and strategies for achieving healthier oceans, stronger marine economies and improved cultural and social outcomes. Area-specific management direction is provided through allocation of areas to three types of spatial zones: General Management Zones, Special Management Zones and Protection Management Zones. The marine plans were signed and approved in April 2015. A Regional Action Framework establishes regional MaPP actions that the partners have identified as being most appropriately implemented at a regional scale and consistent with, and supportive of, sub-regional plan recommendations. 

With the completion of the planning phase, the MaPP partners have turned their full attention to implementation. Join a diverse panel that includes government and First Nations representatives of the MaPP Implementation team, in discussion that will highlight:  key steps in the planning process; implementation achievements and learning to date; and insights on how the team is overcoming challenges. Symposium will focus on achievements in Governance, Marine Zoning and Protection, Stewardship and Monitoring, and Sustainable Economic Development. Travel and participation costs for symposium participants is provided by MaPP.


Title: Synthesizing the extent and impacts of trawl fishing across the globe

Organizer(s): Dr. Tessa Mazor, Dr. Roland Pitcher, Prof. Ray Hilborn

Trawl fishing is a controversial activity. Concern around the globe has focused on the impacts of trawl fishing on the environment. Yet, trawling is also argued to be important for global food security, providing over a third of the worlds fish catch. While attention on this fishing technique and its various opinions endures, there is a void of large-scale quantitative investigation of the actual extent and risks trawling poses to the marine environment. In response, an international group of scientists have set out to address trawling best practices and provide clear management actions for conserving and protecting the sea’s biodiversity. This symposium presents the working group’s five phase project which: 1. collates trawl footprint information across the globe, 2. examines the impact and recover of seabed fauna via met-analyses, 3. conducts a risk assessment of habitats and benthic invertebrates, 4. tests the long-term sustainable yield of target species, and 5. identifies management options and industry practises that may improve the environmental performance of trawl fisheries. Key discussion points will explore the application of our results to help achieve sustainable oceanic habitats, and the transferability of our approaches to other fisheries and anthropogenic disturbances. To make marine science matter this symposium will highlight the need to quantitatively understand and express biodiversity risks for better directing conservation action.


Title: Human Impacts in the Deep Sea

Organizer(s): Dr. Diva Amon, Dr. Andrew Thaler

The deep sea is the largest ecosystem on the planet, covering approximately 60% of the Earth’s surface, most of which is unexplored and not yet understood. It harbours high biodiversity and provides services that are essential to the functioning of our planet. The deep sea also has a wealth of resources, including mineral deposits, fish and invertebrates as food sources, oil and gas, and novel biological compounds that, through technological developments, have recently started to be exploited. Marine debris, climate change, ocean acidification, ocean de-oxygenation, as well as synergistic effects of these disturbances, are already having significant impacts in the highly-vulnerable deep ocean. These are anticipated to accelerate in the future so the conservation of deep-sea habitats and associated communities should be a priority. This includes gaining a better understanding of the deep sea worldwide, effectively managing deep-ocean resources, and mitigating potential impacts. This is a challenge given that the majority of these habitats are located on the high seas where the capacity and legal basis for intervention either do not exist or are nascent and under-equipped. Stakeholders such as the scientific community, industry, national and international organizations, and community advocacy groups must work together to develop successful exploitation management and conservation of deep-sea ecosystems.


Title: Raising the Bar on Marine Protected Areas

Organizer(s): Ms. Christine Santora, Dr. Ellen Pikitch

Marine Protected Areas are a powerful tool for global biodiversity conservation efforts, and a key component of multi-national initiatives including the Convention for Biological Diversity (Aichi Target 11), and the UN SDGs (Target 14.5). These global commitments to achieve 10% ocean protection by the year 2020 have helped drive MPA expansion in recent years, and are poised to be met. While such progress is good news, scientific evidence suggests that a much larger percent of the ocean needs to be protected in order to achieve desired conservation outcomes (O’Leary et al. 2016). There is increasing concern that the focus on quantity of MPAs may dilute their quality, and already many existing MPAs lack sufficient conservation ambition, capacity, and funding (Gill et al. 2017). Multiple efforts have outlined evidence-based criteria for what constitutes a “quality” MPA (e.g. Edgar et al. 2015), including a March 2016 assembly of international scientists in Rome, Italy. That conference produced a robust scientific consensus on MPAs that included science, governance, and funding requirements for effective MPAs. Given that many current MPAs fall short, challenges for the scientific and conservation communities include 1) incorporating latest scientific findings on resilience of MPAs to global and local stressors; 2) strengthening protection levels and effective implementation of new and existing MPAs, and 3) identifiying best-fit locations for MPA expansion. Our proposed symposium will focus on these questions, and explore how using the best available science can improve the distribution, governance, financial strategies, and effectiveness of MPAs around the world.


Title: Can MPAs save sharks?

Organizer(s): Prof. Colin Simpfendorfer, Dr. Michelle Heupel, Prof. Nicholas Dulvy, Dr. Amy Diedrich, Ms. Meira Mizrahi

Sharks face an unprecedented global conservation crisis. One commonly advocated tool for tackling this crisis are protected areas, ranging from small marine reserves to ‘Shark Sanctuaries’ that vary in size and extent of protection. However, there is limited scientific data on which to evaluate the effectiveness of these approaches in reversing the global decline of sharks and rays. Furthermore, managers and policy makers require a means to define areas where conservation outcomes for sharks and rays may be best achieved with marine reserves. This symposium will explore the ecological, socioeconomic and design drivers that influence the success of spatial management for improving the conservation outcomes for sharks and rays.


Title: From science to evidence – innovative uses of biodiversity indicators for effective marine policy and conservation

Organizer(s): Dr. Abigail McQuatters-Gollop, Dr. Ian Mitchell, Dr. Saskia Otto

Indicators are effective tools for summarising and communicating key aspects of ecosystem state and have a long record of use in marine pollution and fisheries management. Application of biodiversity indicators to assess the status of species, habitats, and functional diversity in marine conservation and policy, however, is rapidly developing and multiple indicator roles and features are emerging. For example, some operational biodiversity indicators trigger management action when a threshold is reached, while others play an interpretive, or surveillance, role in informing management. Additionally, links between pressures and biodiversity indicators may be unclear or obscured by environmental change. Finally, much practical work on applying biodiversity indicators to marine policy is developing rapidly in the management realm, with a lag before academic publication. Making best use of biodiversity indicators depends on sharing and synthesising cutting-edge knowledge and experiences.

This session will provide examples of biodiversity indicator application in policy and conservation followed by a discussion of common themes and challenges. Presenters will describe a diverse range of applied case study uses of biodiversity indicators. Diversity and inclusivity are key to aggregating the widest-ranging collection of experiences and examples and we specifically encourage abstract applications from workers from Eastern regions and from developing countries. The session will conclude with a discussion addressing the question ‘How can we move forward with biodiversity indicator use in marine policy and conservation?’ This overarching question will be further discussed in the associated focus group session, with the objective of publishing a scientific paper on the topic.


Title: The FinPrint project: from global surveys of coral reef sharks and rays to conservation success

Organizer(s): Dr. Michelle Heupel, Dr. Demian Chapman

Estimating population trends of marine species can be a complex and lengthy process, with the status of many species difficult to define. Over one quarter of the world’s sharks and rays are facing extinction. Increasing global concern for shark and ray populations are compounded by climate change effects in coral reef ecosystems creating an imperative to understand the status of reef shark populations. Although localised studies of reef shark populations have occurred in the past, large scale efforts to assess and compare abundance, species richness and global status of reef shark populations has not been attempted. The Global FinPrint project brings together new and existing baited remote underwater video data to produce the first globally standard survey of elasmobranch diversity and abundance over the world’s coral reef ecosystems. This large-scale effort seeks to fill the knowledge gaps in human impacts, habitat use and baseline abundance, aiding management and conservation efforts for elasmobranchs. This symposium will discuss the process and findings of this first ever global survey of reef sharks and how the information will be translated in conservation outcomes for coral reef ecosystems.


Title: From small-scale to distant-water: Challenges and emerging opportunities for strengthening fisheries management in Asia

Organizer(s): Ms. Polita Glynn

A central challenge of fisheries management is that it involves multiple spatial scales and levels of governance. This is particularly true in Asia, where some fisheries are managed by a single village on an individual reef and others by multi-national organizations spanning multiple oceans. This session will feature a spectrum of emerging approaches to fishery conservation in the Asian context, running across all of these scales. For example, engaging local communities may be the best approach for data-poor and small-scale reef fisheries, such as those in India and Indonesia. In Japan, institutional reform may be a key first step because of existing obstacles to incorporating independent scientific advice into management decisions. And in China, new legal structures may be needed to improve the government’s capacity to regulate the rapid growth of distant-water fisheries, which now include more than 1,200 vessels and have sizeable landings around the globe. Speakers from each of these countries will discuss their ongoing efforts to support conservation-focused fisheries management in the region.


Title: Justice and equity in marine conservation: theory, empirical analysis, and practice

Organizer(s): Dr. Georgina Gurney, Ms. Jacqueline Lau

Socially just and equitable conservation practice is not only central to ensuring conservation contributes to human well-being, but is also instrumental to achieving biodiversity gains. Correspondingly, justice and equity concerns are now prominent in national and international conservation policy. For instance, Aichi Target 11 calls for protected areas to be equitably managed by 2020. However, understanding of how to consider and incorporate equity and the broader concept of justice into marine conservation and management practice remains nascent. The aims of this session are twofold: first, to examine key justice theories and concepts relevant to contemporary marine conservation (e.g. environmental justice, social equity, and plural values), and second, to explore how these concepts are being applied in marine empirical analyses, conservation and management practice. These case studies will span multiple justice dimensions (e.g. distribution, recognition, procedural), considerations (e.g. gender, intergenerational and intersectional equity), and scales of governance, from on-ground practice to broad-scale policies. Bringing together experienced and emerging scholars and practitioners from diverse disciplines and geographies, the session will highlight innovative approaches and opportunities around the widely advocated, yet rarely explicitly considered, goal of just and equitable marine conservation.


Title: Seabirds in Southeast Asia: need for collaboration programme

Organizer(s): Dr. Abdulmula Hamza, Dr. Simba Chan, Mr. Yat-tung Yu

Southeast Asia lies between NE Asia and Australasia: many seabird species breeding in the north, for example the Critically Endangered Chinese Crested Tern and the elusive Aleutian Tern, winter in this region but very little information is currently available. Other seabird species are breeding in Southeast Asia, and historic egg collection in several countries in addition to changes in land use shaped the size and diversity of today's populations. Both countries along the East Asian Australasian Flyway (later the flyway) such as the USA, Russia, Japan and South Korea in the north and Australia, New Zealand in the south have longer histories in seabird study and conservation, while both data and interest in SE Asia are still relatively low.

This symposium aims to present current initiatives in seabird conservation, needs in SE Asia and to discuss the possibility of a new collaborative project on seabird research and conservation via policies, training and management guidelines of seabird sites for SE Asia. We aim to promote sharing and develop international cooperation in research and conservation along the Flyway. This project also will complement the efforts to conserve migratory seabird populations along the Flyway. Other important aspect for the symposium is to present current efforts of ringing and tracking schemes in the Flyway region and how we can establish a common ringing/tracking scheme database for the Southeast Asian region, to better understand movements of breeding seabirds in the region using scientific standards, and share information and knowledge across the flyway region.


Title: The value of entrepreneurship for conservation: sourcing, developing, and scaling ocean conservation solutions

Organizer(s): Dr. Barbara Martinez, Ms. Cassie Hoffman

The conservation challenges affecting our oceans require innovative and scalable solutions, as well as innovative methods to get those solutions to scale for the maximum conservation impact.  This session will include speakers from Conservation X Labs (CXL) and early-stage companies in Oceans X Labs (OXL), which is an innovation platform and joint initiative of Conservation X Labs and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to solve global challenges of ocean conservation through the power of emergent technologies, open innovation, collaborative problem solving, and entrepreneurship.  We are creating a solution pipeline for ocean conservation by leveraging open innovation methodologies and competitive events to source new solution ideas, a digital open-source hardware platform called the Digital Makerspace to incubate and develop a community of innovations, and an accelerator program to provide innovators with business support and mentoring to create successful and impactful enterprises that scale.

Yet, it is necessary to support and nurture this community of multidisciplinary solvers and entrepreneurs to successfully move from idea to innovation.  The entrepreneurs featured in the session are creating enterprises that can replace current products with negative environmental footprints in the aquafeeds marketplace, or can dramatically improve the growing conditions and environmental footprints to cultivate algae on a large scale.  A key aspect of scaling innovations is creating business models and seeking investments that ensure financial sustainability. The session will conclude with a presentation about how to scale innovations through innovative financing mechanisms.


Title: Cutting Edge Advances in Environmental Social Science for Marine Conservation

Organizer(s): Mr. Brock Bergseth, Dr. Michele Barne

Achieving conservation goals requires a thorough understanding of the social dynamics underpinning resource use and management. This has been increasingly recognised in the last decade, as illustrated by the rapid growth of an emerging body of work in the transdisciplinary field of ‘environmental social science’. By applying theories and methods from across the social sciences to better understand the sociocultural and economic drivers that shape human behaviour and human-environment interactions, environmental social science can provide critical insights into factors that ultimately lead to the success or failure of management and conservation strategies. The goal of this session is to (1) highlight cutting-edge advances in environmental social science theories and methods and how they are being applied to issues in marine conservation, (2) discuss how these efforts can help achieve marine conservation goals, and (3) identify challenges that remain in translating this emerging body of work into policy and management action. Presentations will include scholars and practitioners working within and across fields of anthropology, sociology, economics, geography, political science, psychology, and ecology. Speakers will describe research and investigations that draw on integrative theories and cutting-edge methods, tools, and approaches to tackle a diverse range of marine conservation issues.


Title: Integrating cultural values in dugong conservation

Organizer(s): Dr. Jan Van Der Ploeg, Mrs. Maya Bankova-Todorova

Dugongs (Dugong dugon) play a central role in the culture and cosmology of indigenous fishing communities throughout the Indo-West Pacific. Dugongs feature in art and oral history, and are often a highly valued food item. Fishers often have an intimate knowledge of the ecology and behavior of the threatened marine mammal. However, this rich cultural heritage is often ignored in in-situ dugong conservation efforts, which tend to focus on ecotourism enterprises and seagrass ecosystem services valuation. However, such interventions often fail to mobilize public support for dugong conservation, and can in fact undermine local norms and values. This symposium aims to discuss novel methods to integrate cultural values in marine conservation.


Title: Putting marine science in to practice for conservation and management of sharks and rays in South East Asia

Organizer(s): Ms. Hollie Booth, Dr. Moonyeen Alava, Dr. Madhu Rao, Mr. Barry Flaming

Sharks and rays are one of the most threatened species groups in the world. Their elevated extinction risk is a product of rapid global increases in fishing mortality, coupled with conservative life-history traits that make them vulnerable to overfishing. Sharks and rays are increasingly acknowledged as ecologically important and charismatic species, with growing professional interest and public sentiment towards conserving them. This is reflected in several recent international policy decisions, particularly the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), to confer greater protection to species and populations at risk. Within this international context, SE Asia is a global priority for shark and ray conservation and management: it’s home to The Coral Triangle, a global hotspot of shark endemism; and to some of the world’s largest shark and ray fisheries and trading hubs. Several countries in the region are committed to meeting their CITES obligations, however putting policy in to practice for effective shark and ray conservation is challenging for several practical and ethical reasons. In particular: complex habitat and population dynamics, diverse species, conflicting human uses and values, limited implementability of species-specific policies, and ethical concerns associated with well-being of shark fishing communities. This symposium will explore how conservationists in Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore and The Philippines are making marine science matter for sharks and rays, by: a) better understanding conservation and management issues; b) designing nuanced, practical and ethical interventions to better protect habitat, manage fisheries and regulate trade; and, c) measuring impact of initiatives and policies.


Title: Management of Sustainable Coral Reef Tourism under the Climate Change Crisis

Organizer(s): Dr. Makamas Sutthacheep, Dr. Mathinee Yucharoen, Dr. Thamasak Yeemin

Most tropical countries, particularly the Southeast Asia (SEA) has high economic values of marine and coastal ecosystems, especially coral reefs. The high biodiversity of coral reefs and associated ecosystems provide great ecological services to coastal communities. Coral reef tourism is a very valuable service that contributes economic benefits to the nations. Given case studies of coral reef tourism in SEA countries, they have been developed over the past decades in order to comply with growing of tourism industry. Unfortunately, rapid development of coral reef tourism with unsustainable management may lead to severe degradation of coral reef ecosystem and loss of marine biodiversity. It is recognized that natural disturbances of global climatic change, such as elevated seawater temperature, also have negative impacts. As coral reef tourism is strongly dependent upon the ecosystem health, maintaining the ecosystem services is very important to ensure sustainability of marine tourism. Scientific knowledge plays an important role for understanding coral reef ecosystems and how to sustain their functions. Participation of local communities and stakeholders is also required for enhancing effective sustainable tourism management. In this symposium, scientists and managers working in SEA countries are gathered to present their experiences from research, management, monitor and conservation aspects, focusing on coral reef tourism. Some lessons learned from the SEA region will be highlighted, including capacity enhancement for monitoring and research, community-based management and marine protected areas. 


Title: Social, economic, and governance tools and incentives to combat Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) trade of marine fauna

Organizer(s): Dr. Catherine Longo, Prof. Stefano Mariani

At least half of the seafood traded in the world today, if not more considering illegal catches and poaching, comes from wild capture fisheries, much of which remains poorly assessed and regulated. The rapid increase in global reach of supply chains to date has not been matched by equally effective monitoring of product sources, making it difficult to stop unsustainably harvested stocks and endangered species from entering the global market.  These issues are especially challenging for marine fauna, due to inherent difficulty of tracking activities at sea, insufficient knowledge of global trade pathways, and high potential for product substitution and misnaming. 

In order to achieve sustainability and conservation goals, traceability of marine harvest has been recognized as key. Existing national and international trade regulations, however, are still proving insufficient on their own. Innovative digital and molecular tools have opened up new tracking possibilities, while private ecolabeling initiatives might provide social and economic incentives for the industry to implement best practice. At a time of unprecedented biodiversity loss and threat to food security, the IUU harvesting of marine organisms represents a major global problem, which requires interdisciplinary expertise and creative solutions. This symposium will provide a discussion space dissecting the social, economic and governance aspects of the problem and potential corresponding solutions. The aim is a much needed synthesis of strategies towards a transparent, sustainable, and conservation-aware marine resource trade.


Title: The role of ecosystem models in assessing progress towards biodiversity and conservation goals

Organizer(s): Dr. Kate Watermeyer, Dr. Emily Nicholson, Mr. Michael Burgass

A range of international agreements and associated goals aiming to limit biodiversity loss have been adopted over recent decades, e.g. the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Aichi Biodiversity Targets for 2020. These goals and targets provide a direct pathway for conservation science to influence policy and the decision-making process, by providing relevant feedback on progress towards these targets. Given limited and variable resources however, successful monitoring and assessment of progress requires the use of multiple tools and approaches. This symposium aims to promote discussion on the current and potential role of ecosystem models in this process. Lessons or approaches learned from other disciplines, including fisheries management and economics, will be discussed, and future research priorities and focus areas established. Outcomes will be used as the basis for an opinion piece highlighting current challenges and areas to prioritise in future research efforts.


Title: Under the radar:  Global Shipping Impacts and Surfacing Solutions

Mrs. Meaghan Calcari Campbell, Dr. Mary Turnipseed, Mr. Andrew Dumbrille, Ms. Sarah Bobbe, Mr. Todd Paglia, Ms. Diana Chan

The global shipping sector has been under the radar—ships come and go, delivering the products of everyday life. The number of ocean-going ships has increased fourfold since 1992, getting simultaneously noisier, bigger, and difficult to slow down. In pristine areas like coastal British Columbia or the Arctic, untreated wastewater, oily bilge water, and ballast water threaten the ecosystems and the coastal and indigenous communities that depend upon a clean ocean. With container ships and tankers also come strikes to endangered marine mammals and oil spills from accidental discharges or vessel accidents. Cruise ships have human health and environmental justice effects in ports, with localized air and sewage. And, marine shipping is one of the only sectors exempted from the Paris Climate Agreement, despite the fact that, if left unchecked, their contributions will amount to 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  

Communities are coming together to build geographic response plans and identify areas to be avoided by large ships. Countries like Canada have committed to implementing a world-leading marine safety system and place-specific oil tanker moratoriums. And the International Maritime Organization has begun the process to reduce the risk of a catastrophic oil spill in the Arctic by phasing out the use of heavy fuel oil, while many still call for banning its carriage also.  

Going local to global, join our wide-ranging panel of experts from indigenous communities, advocacy organizations and the policy arena to learn about shipping’s real challenges, solutions and how they are having an impact.


Title: Priorities and goals for conservation of elasmobranchs in Asia

Organizer(s): Dr. shaili johri

Overexploitation of marine resources and habitat degradation has caused an enormous loss of marine biodiversity in the worlds’ oceans. While overfishing and habitat degradation have profoundly altered populations of marine animals, certain apex predator species groups such as sharks, rays and chimaeras (class Chondrichthyes, herein referred to as ‘sharks’) have been particularly targeted. An estimated one quarter of Chondrichthyan species worldwide are under threat of extinction. To further increase threats facing Chondrichthyes, countries with some of the highest number of threatened species have the highest share of shark landings in the world, and minimal to non-existent fisheries management. Among shark fishing nations, India has a very high diversity of chondrichthyan species and has the second largest share of shark landings in the world while Indonesia has the highest share. India has suffered a 20% decline in Chondrichthyan stocks in the past decade and at the current rate of shark fishing, unprecedented population declines in local and global populations that migrate through the area may occur, leading to an increased rate of extinction and erosion of commercially important elasmobranchs and non-elasmobranch stocks. Inspite of this urgency, hardly any concrete efforts have been made to collaborate with fishing communities and come up with priority strategies to conserve these species. This symposium will  focus on current measures, and future goals and priorities for the conservation of elasmobranchs in the highest elasmobranch landing nations of the world. Experts in global as well as local elasmobranch conservation will participate in the symposium and focus group.


Title: Conservation research in urbanized marine environments

Organizer(s): Dr. Eliza Heery, Dr. Peter Todd

Nearshore ecosystems are changing rapidly as coastal zones globally become increasingly urbanized. Many of the organisms that persist in urban marine habitats hold tremendous ecological, social, and economic value, leading to complex conservation challenges. Researchers and practitioners in coastal cities around the world have recently made great strides towards advancing scientific knowledge, developing novel planning and policy strategies, and enhancing public engagement in urban marine conservation. This symposium brings together speakers from a range of backgrounds to share their experiences, with the goal of finding synergies across cities and across disciplines that improve our ability to meet conservation challenges in an increasingly urban world. Symposium contributions will be welcomed from all relevant fields. Likely topical areas include the following:

  • Characterization of marine biodiversity and distribution patterns in urban areas  
  • Urban drivers of population decline or recovery over time among marine taxa. 
  • Use of urban habitats by marine protected species and important marine consumers. 
  • The extent, characteristics of, and factors affecting coral reef ecosystems in urban environments. 
  • Marine resource use, fishery development, and fisheries management of heavily urban settings. 
  • The potential for ecological engineering in marine urban environments. 
  • Citizen- and community-initiated marine conservation programs in coastal cities. 
  • Outreach and public engagement in conservation of marine organisms that live in urban areas. 
  • Urban planning, policy development, and city initiatives that integrate marine conservation objectives: Approaches, challenges, and lessons learned.


Title: Integrating social sciences to ensure human well-being in marine conservation

Organizer(s): Dr. Supin Wongbusarakum, Dr. Kirsten Leong

Marine conservation has been increasingly linked to human well-being, yet these claims are not often verified. Social scientific tools and methods are becoming more widely embraced by marine managers, conservation practitioners, and researchers to provide a means of measuring well-being. This symposium will provide examples of social science integration into a range of frameworks, tools, and approaches in different parts of the world to address critical conservation questions linked to human well-being, such as: what are the links between people and the natural environment in specific geographies; what motivates people to behave in ways that strongly impact natural resources; what are the benefits of management and conservation of marine and coastal resources to human well-being; and, what is the vulnerability of communities to climate change? Topics will include: a biocultural approach to understanding resilience in the Pacific, broadening integrated ecosystem assessments to include cultural ecosystem services, interdisciplinary monitoring at sites and at regional levels (South Asia and U.S. affiliated islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific), and other initiatives intended to improve understanding of human dimensions and include local stakeholders in marine conservation. Symposium presentations will explain how social science can improve management decisions and conservation of marine and coastal resources to better support human well-being and sustainability of both the natural and human systems.



Title: Prioritising marine conservation in the South Asia region

Organizer(s): Dr. Naveen Namboothri, Dr. Vardhan Patankar, Dr. Vineeta Hoon

South Asia (SA) covers 3.4% of the world’s land area and more than 25% of the world’s population is packed into the region, making it one of the most densely populous regions in the world with consequent pressures on natural resources. Five countries in SA viz. Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have a maritime boundary where 7-8 million people who are directly dependent on fisheries as a source of livelihood. SA also houses the world’s largest mangrove ecosystem (the Sunderbans), contributes to about 7% of the global mangrove and coral reef cover and support marine ecosystems and populations that are of global significance and conservation value.

Despite the huge economic, social and ecological values of these ecosystems, the SA region has always received scant attention at a global scale. Even within the region, the coastal and marine systems are low in terms of conservation priority. Local capacities for conservation, scientific and technological support, funding sources and government interests are generally lacking. As a result, these systems and the people dependent on them are in an extremely vulnerable state.

The idea of the proposed workshop is to bring together various government and non-government institutions, organisations and individuals from SA to brainstorm and:

  • build a consortium of partners working on coastal and marine conservation issues
  • identify shared as well as specific issues and challenges
  • identify opportunities to complement each other’s efforts
  • develop a framework and strategy for regional collaboration


Title: Increasing effective partial protection approaches for tropical marine conservation

Organizer(s): Dr. Dominic Andradi-Brown, Ms. Estradivari Estradivari, Dr. David Gill, Dr. Nils Krueck, Dr. Helen Fox

Establishing effective marine protected areas (MPAs) is a major goal of many marine conservation programs, with the CBD Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 committing governments to ‘effectively and equitably’ manage 10% of global marine and coastal areas in MPAs by 2020. While many tropical marine conservationists pursue no-take marine protection, in areas with large reef-dependent communities, extensive no-take zones are often incompatible with equitable management. Therefore, increasingly conservationists are implementing spatial and temporal partial protection, with dual aims of conserving reef biodiversity while allowing sustainable extractive fisheries. Approaches can include spatial gear restrictions, periodic harvest closures, and increased local ownership and management rights. However, the effectiveness of partial protection is still untested in many locations, with variable results depending on whether evaluation is framed around human livelihood or biodiversity gains. For partial protection to contribute ‘effectively and equitably' to global coral reef management, a holistic view is required, bringing together an understanding of maintaining reef biodiversity and crucial ecosystem functions, while allowing extractive human uses. This session highlights key successes from coral reef conservationists implementing partial protection approaches, but also asks them to critically evaluate encountered failures. Specifically, speakers presenting partial protection successes for coral reef conservation will be asked to reflect on wider impacts on both human livelihoods and the ability of the protection to support long-term reef resilience. The session will conclude with a panel discussion, encouraging audience interaction, aiming to identify common insights into effective partial protection approaches for both human livelihoods and biodiversity conservation.


Title: Optical Technology and Computer Vision for Marine Conservation and Sustainable Management

Organizer(s): Mr. William Michaels, Dr. Benjamin Richards, Dr. Matthew Campbell, Prof. Euan Harvey, Dr. Anthony Hoogs

This symposium will address cutting-edge advances in optical technologies and image processing tools that improve the quantity, quality and timeliness of scientific information used for policy decisions on the sustainability of living marine resources. Advanced underwater optical systems are more readily available providing stereo imagery, accurate measurements, and increased sampling volume. Innovative platforms, such as fixed and mobile autonomous platforms, provide cost-effective deployment of optical systems for conducting visual surveys from marine habitats like coral reef ecosystems that were previously difficult to sample. The increasing demand for collecting optical data from these data-limited areas has resulted in large volumes of imagery data exceeding the capacity of human annotators. For this reason, computer vision has made critical advances for streamlining the processing of underwater imagery data using automated image recognition tools. The state of the art in assessing marine ecosystems using remotely collected optical datasets has progressed rapidly in recent years. However, there is a need to improve the standardized annotation, storage, and accessibility of the ever-growing catalog of underwater images to produce actionable information for marine conservation researchers and managers. We will examine how these recent advances in optical technologies can be applied to the assessment of marine populations and habitats for the sustainability of living marine resources. We will also examine where further technical developments are required, and improvements in the cost, size, simplicity of optical tools and their operations for use in various environments for more accessibility to a broader range of researchers and citizen scientists.


Title: Toward science-informed, increased marine protected area targets

Organizer(s): Dr. Winnie Lau, Ms. Elizabeth Wilson

The Aichi Targets adopted in 2010 by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Conference of the Party (COP) set the goal of protecting at least 10 percent of the ocean by 2020 (Target 11). However, scientific evidence supports that this is inadequate towards achieving a fully sustainable ocean and that a target of 30% highly protected MPAs would be more effective. At the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress, an overwhelming majority of policymakers, scientists, and conservation practitioners  supported the resolution calling for the protection of at least 30 percent of the ocean. It is anticipated that at the 2020 CBD COP there will be both an accounting of the Aichi Targets and the establishment of new targets. The marine science community has an opportunity to voice its knowledge and recommendations to inform the development of new targets and provide the latest science around key questions that policymakers are asking, such as: What are the benefits of MPAs? What level of protection is needed for the stated objectives? How do we build a mix of MPAs (e.g., size, network, and level of protection) to achieve them? How effective are different types of MPAs towards the conservation of marine biodiversity and ecosystem functions? Discussion arising from the panel can help frame the international dialog among policymakers, scientists and conservation practitioners around what constitutes adequate marine protection.


Title: Gwaii Haanas: Lessons from 25 years of cooperative management of a land-and-sea protected area

Organizer(s): Dr. Hilary Thorpe, Mr. Ernest Gladstone, Ms. Cindy Boyko

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site is a land-and-sea protected area located off the northwest coast of North America. The area is cooperatively managed by the Council of the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada through the Archipelago Management Board (AMB). The AMB was established through the 1993 Gwaii Haanas Agreement, which continues to be held up as an innovative example of two parties with separate authorities finding a way to work together despite diverging viewpoints on sovereignty.

The AMB is developing an integrated Land-Sea-People management plan for Gwaii Haanas, in the spirit of the Haida principle gina‘waadluxan gud ad kwaagiida or interconnectedness. The management plan, which will be the first of its kind, includes high-level goals, objectives that describe priorities in support of each goal, targets that measure progress towards objectives, and a zoning plan.

This symposium features seven key examples of current and ongoing work in Gwaii Haanas aimed at achieving goals from the Land-Sea-People management plan: effective collaboration, ecosystem protection, cultural continuity, ecologically sustainable resource use, advancing knowledge, public awareness, and visitor experience. Each talk outlines a challenge the AMB has faced or is facing, describes how the challenge was approached, and highlights lessons learned. The importance of identifying shared objectives and building relationships across agencies and sectors emerges in all examples as key to achieving conservation outcomes in a cooperative management context.


Title: Crafting Scientific Advice for International Fisheries in an Era of Skepticism and Politicization

Organizer(s): Ms. Shana Miller, Dr. Grantly Galland

Fisheries science is often faced with the challenges of characterizing and describing uncertainty, and has become fraught with controversy and distrust, yet it is key to developing successful management programs. One of the most challenging jobs of scientists is communicating their results to resource managers and stakeholders, and most importantly, developing management advice based on those results. Similar challenges face scientists in various fisheries, including international fisheries targeting highly migratory species like tunas, swordfish, and pelagic sharks. This symposium will bring together scientists, managers, and stakeholders to present lessons learned on how to deliver succinct and explicit advice, new approaches for developing more objective advice (e.g., management strategy evaluation), and techniques for maintaining a firewall between the science and politics. The symposium will also explore the managers’ responsibility to give clear guidance on what kind of advice they need (e.g., through the setting of management objectives) and the role of scientific advice in the development of international fisheries management plans. The output of the symposium will be a peer-reviewed publication in the conference proceedings about best practices for crafting scientific advice for management of marine fisheries. The symposium’s overall objective is to maximize the likelihood that the best available science is at the foundation of international fisheries management.


Title: Linking ‘Social Science’ with ‘Policy Windows”: Lessons from implementing research at the right time, in the right place

Organizer(s): Dr. Ana Spalding, Dr. Kelly Biedenweg

Calls for the integration of human dimensions tools to solve marine environmental problems are pervasive in the recent literature. As a result, there have been more contributions from social scientists and humanities scholars, as well as practical and intellectual explorations of transdisciplinarity as a panacea for improvements in marine science and conservation. The benefits of “human-focused” approaches are notable, however we suggest there is a need to move beyond the calls for more and better-integrated human dimensions research, to adopt a strategic vision for these efforts. Indeed, science that foresees, responds to, or is framed within existing marine policy needs is more likely to become adopted. Although science and policy-making often occur asynchronously, improved understanding of “policy-windows” will support the uptake of scientific knowledge in for evidence-based policy making.  Symposium speakers will include applied researchers from a range of disciplines (e.g. policy, geography, human dimension of fisheries and wildlife, etc.), who have demonstrated a keen awareness of the policy and political processes that provide emerging opportunities to develop policy-relevant research. Topics will include the science and politics of wellbeing in the Puget Sound, WA; the use of local knowledge to inform policy in Hawaii; social science in marine management decision-making in the U.S. Pacific; and the creation of opportunities for adoption of small-scale fisheries data collection tools in Panama. We expect symposium presentations will help us compile lessons learned that will get us closer to “making science matter”. 


Title: Novel approaches to the conservation and management of coral reefs under climate change

Organizer(s): Dr. Line Bay, Dr. Kenneth Anthony, Mr. Tom Moore, Dr. Margaret Miller, Dr. Petra Lundgren, Dr. Amelia Wenger

The outlook for coral reefs under increasing local and global threats is one of continual decline. Recent record temperatures and mass coral bleaching events signal that even intensive conventional management will not make coral reefs immune to future heat-waves. While decisive carbon mitigation and conventional management are essential parts of a solution, additional interventions are now also needed in natural resource management and conservation planning to build climate resilience, even under best-case emission scenarios. This symposium will bring cutting-edge thinking around novel interventions for the conservation and management of coral reefs in the Anthropocene. We will have presentations from biologists, social scientists and economists, practitioners and policy-makers. The speakers will outline prospective biological approaches to support the recovery of reef habitat and enhance the climate adaptation of reef corals. The speakers will then explore bottlenecks in the coral life history, adaptive capacity and symbiosis and tackle difficult topics such as the potential role for genetic engineering in conservation. The symposium will finish with an exploration of how reef values for society and economies can be sustained and the potential trade-offs we might have to make under severe climate change. These presentations will set the scene for the panel discussion that will explore the costs, risks and benefits of novel interventions on coral reefs.


Title: Coral reef conservation in a rapidly changing world: traditional strategies and new paradigms

Organizer(s): Dr. Amelia Wenger, Dr. Emily Darling, Dr. Gabby Ahmadia

In the face of climate change, warming oceans, and catastrophic bleaching, coral reef conservation is at a timely crossroads. Human population growth, land conversion, and demand for coastal and marine resources further compound climate change impacts. To address these diverse impacts in a changing climate, there is a new urgency to support and strengthen a rich history of local and regional conservation partnerships and actions around managing fisheries and water quality and conserving potential climate refuges. The goal of this transdisciplinary symposium is to synthesize and summarize the diversity of tools, approaches, and solutions for coral reef conservation across scales and to understand the enabling conditions that lead to successful coral reef conservation, now and into the future. We invite talks from conservation practitioners, research scientists, policy-makers, entrepreneurs, and other outside-the-box thinkers that highlight: 1) ways to strengthen and develop practical solutions towards coral reef conservation and management to en


Title: Simple solutions to complex fisheries impacts on ecosystems

Organizer(s): Dr. Jameal Samhouri, Dr. Tessa Francis

Recoveries of historically-depleted marine mammals and other protected species are increasingly common. Yet threats abound to these and other populations still in jeopardy from a variety of human activities. Well-known examples involve impacts of fisheries on seabirds, entanglement of whales in derelict gear that is left at sea to ghost-fish, and unintended consequences of hatchery supplementation programs on anadromous species and dependent predators. Still, there are several instances in which workable solutions have allowed for conservation wins without the sacrificing of marine livelihoods, cultural values, or economic gain. Three include fishing gear modifications like turtle excluder devices, marine protected areas used in lieu of weak stock fisheries management, and dynamic ocean management approaches that use real-time remotely sensed data to avoid marine uses in hot spots of protected species abundance. In this symposium we invite presentations that review case studies, theoretical developments, and analytical tools focused on the vexing problem of reducing interactions between protected species with fisheries or other human activities. Promising approaches for data-poor contexts are especially welcome. The goal is to generate a synthetic understanding of what is working and what is not with an eye toward scaling and replicating marine conservation solutions.


Title: Sea turtle conservation in Southeast Asia: where we are and how do we move forward?

Organizer(s): Ms. Seh Ling Long, Dr. Pelf Nyok Chen

Protecting sea turtles is an effort that requires co-operation from the highest levels of government to individuals around the world. Across the world, many government and non-governmental agencies are conducting various sea turtle research and conservation projects to protect and conserve these turtles. Much have been published on the various aspects of sea turtle research and conservation, including but not limited to, life history and population studies, ecology, conservation genetics, in-situ and ex-situ conservation efforts, the effects of climate change on the survival of sea turtles, reducing fishery bycatch and mortality, human dimensions of sea turtle management and policy, etc. However, as much as these research projects are important, it is equally crucial to ensure that these research findings are leveraged to afford more protection for sea turtles. The symposium provides an avenue for these researchers, conservationists and non-academicians to promote their research, share their findings, identify common threats and legislation loopholes. It also provides a platform to discuss how these findings can be translated into advances in conservation policies and legislations, and communicated to the public. This symposium will also be beneficial to graduate students and/or early career researchers to network with others in a similar field and to train future sea turtle researchers and conservationists.


Title: Making livelihoods projects work: appraising fisheries-based livelihood enhancement strategies for marine conservation

Orgranizer(s): Dr. Alex Tilley, Dr. Jan Van Der Ploeg

Most marine conservation efforts in developing countries explicitly recognize the intricate links between poverty and environmental degradation, and the need for an integrated approach to tackle these problems. Considerable investments are therefore made to diversify the livelihoods of small-scale fishing communities. There is sharp debate on the effectiveness of such ‘alternative livelihood projects’, as there is notable lack of convincing cases where interventions have successfully improved incomes, food security, or health, and led to a reduction of threats to biodiversity. This is reminiscent of experiences in fisheries management and development policy, where efforts to provide incentives to leave the small-scale fisheries sector have largely failed. This symposium aims to improve our understanding of if alternative livelihood projects actually work and, perhaps more importantly, what can be done to enhance the fisheries-based livelihoods of vulnerable coastal communities while maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem integrity.  


Title: Advancing an ecosystem-based approach to Marine Spatial Planning in South Africa

Organizer(s): Prof. Mandy Lombard

South Africa’s large exclusive economic zone (~ 1,5 million km2) extends into three oceans (Indian, Atlantic and Southern). Management of this ocean space has traditionally been undertaken within sectors, leading to conflict amongst sectors, and between sectors and the need for environmental protection. As the demand for ocean space and marine resources increases, in response to a growing oceans economy, a more integrated approach to management is required to ensure that both ecological and socio-economic objectives are met. Marine spatial planning (MSP) has emerged in many countries as an effective process to achieve greater integration of marine resource management and policy, and in 2016, South Africa became the first African country to draft MSP legislation. In this Symposium, we present a series of key research projects to advance a trans-disciplinary ecosystem-based approach to South Africa’s new MSP process. We discuss biodiversity mapping of vulnerable marine ecosystems; the development of quantitative indices of marine ecosystem condition; spatial management of fisheries production and support areas; the role of spatial management in the reduction of bycatch in particular fisheries, and the reduction of conflict between top predators and fishing industries for target species. We conclude with a system dynamics model for a fine-scale ecosystem-based marine spatial plan for Algoa Bay. This novel approach will enable scenario planning within the Bay, to allow us to evaluate trade-offs among management options. The model can be scaled up to broader regions in line with emerging MSP legislation, thus demonstrating how marine science matters to policy development.