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Focus Groups

Pre-congress focus groups will take place on Saturday, August 22 and/or Sunday, August 23, 2020 at the University of Kiel. All pre-congress focus groups require a fee in addition to IMCC6 registration. Several focus groups will also take place during IMCC6. These focus groups will be held every day from August 24 – 27, 2020. Focus groups are open to all delegates, unless designated “by invitation only." Focus groups that require pre-registration are marked "pre-registration is required." All others are are carried out on a drop-in basis.

Below is a list of the accepted focus groups for IMCC6. More details on specific locations, times, dates, pre-registration, and capacity will be shared shortly so stay tuned for updates!

Accepted IMCC6 Focus Groups:

Title: FG-01 Co-designing a Statement to End Parachute Research

Organizer(s): Dr. Edward Hind-Ozan, Mr. Md Kutub Uddin

‘Parachute research’ is the practice of researchers from high income nations conducting research in lower income nations or indigenous communities with few benefits for the host nation or community, even causing harm. It is prevalent in marine conservation. With much well-intended research not meeting local research priorities, making little long-term impact, failing to build capacity, or actually being exploitative, there is a duty of the wider community to act. In these sessions, Congress attendees from both ends of parachute research will co-draft the ‘Kiel Statement’ on the need to end parachute research in marine conservation. The statement will be widely publicized at the conclusion of the Congress, with the SCB Marine community being asked to take the lead combating this negative practice that is inhibiting marine conservation efforts globally.


Title: FG-02 Ecological role of man-made structures in the marine environment in the light of climate change

Organizer(s): Dr. Marie-Lise Schläppy, Dr. Joop W.P. Coolen, Dr. Sally Rouse

The goal of this focus group is to elicit from the focus group participants, the most pressing and important questions that need answering regarding the role of man-made structures in the marine environment in the light of climate change. The research that arises from answering these questions will be informing policy and the management of man-made structures in the marine environment.
The marine environment is home to a variety of man-made structures such as harbours, navigational aids, offshore wind farms, oil and gas infrastructure and shipwrecks. The ecological role of some of these structures has been researched mostly in isolation and not yet in a holistic fashion. We are now entering an era where oil and gas companies need to decommission ageing infrastructure, mostly first used in the 60s and 70s. Concurrently, devices relating to the marine renewables sector (offshore wind sector, wave and tide energy) are increasing in number and some offshore wind facilities are now ready to be decommissioned, after they have reached the end of their life-cycle (ca. 25 years). The ecological role of the biodiversity found on and around structures needs to be established because regulators must decide whether to allow further device installation and whether in situ decommissioning of man-made structures are ecologically warranted. Regulators require an evidence-base on the long-term ecosystem-scale effects that structures have on ocean sprawl, and the connectivity of marine habitats, especially in the light of climate change. In this focus group, we will identify the priority research questions that must be answered to understand the role of structures in the future and with the expected effect of climate change on species range shifts.


Title: FG-03 Evaluating MPA networks: Are they more than the sum of their parts?

Organizer(s): Ms. Mairi Meehan, Dr. Natalie Ban, Dr. Gerald Singh, Dr. Joachim Claudet

A lot of guidance exists on measuring marine protected area (MPA) effectiveness, while attention to MPA network effectiveness is nascent.  This focus group will explore ways of measuring MPA networks effectiveness in realizing Aichi Target 11, which recognizes the value of social, economic and governance factors in addition to aerial coverage in achieving biodiversity conservation. This focus group will build on a suite of indicators identified and classified in a global review of MPA network effectiveness (Meehan et al., in prep.). Prior to this session, a survey of MPA network practitioners will have identified improvements to the suite of indicators identified in the global review. Participants in the focus group will build on this work by further improving the suite of indicators, including accounting for the complexity and multi-dimensionality of MPA networks. IMCC provides an ideal platform to collaborate with MPA practitioners and scientists from all regions of the world, providing diverse, critical perspectives on measuring MPA networks effectiveness.
Anticipated outputs of this session will be a guide for MPA network practitioners on the selection and use of MPA network indicators, reflecting the diverse nature of MPA networks and means of achieving Aichi Target 11 qualitative elements. 


Title: FG-04 Marine Carbon Dioxide Removal (mCDR):  Challenges and opportunities in establishing the science, gaining social acceptance and defining a legal framework.

Organizer(s): Dr. Mar Fernández-Méndez, Dr. Allanah Paul, Dr. Nadine Mengis

In order to meet the 1.5°C warming target we need to drastically reduce our carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as well as actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Coastal ecosystems can contribute to marine CO2 removal (mCDR) through, for example, the enhancement of its chemical storage capacity (alkalinisation), by conserving key ecosystems for blue carbon storage (mangroves, seagrass, etc), or by enhancing microalgae growth and carbon export to the seafloor through fertilization (e.g. artificial upwelling).Scientists need to determine under which conditions mCDR could be effective for long-term carbon storage. In parallel, developing a legal and economic framework will be essential for a successful application. Viewing mCDR as a tool to enhance marine conservation efforts in marine coastal ecosystems would ease the regulatory framework and may dramatically change societal perception. This session aims to bring together natural and social scientists across a wide range of disciplines to discuss what would make an effective application of mCDR measures while retaining marine resources and ecosystem function. By bringing together scientific, engineering, social, legal, economic and political aspects of mCDR, we expect to trigger fruitful transdisciplinary discussions about the way forward to advise decision makers if and how mCDR may be investigated and implemented. The proposed focus group (20-30 participants) would take 2 hours with presentations from selected experts from different fields, followed by a semi-structured interactive open discussion. Anticipated session outputs include a white paper summarizing the current scientific knowledge of using mCDR as a tool to support marine conservation in coastal regions in a sustainable way including a survey of social perception of mCDR measures and a network of early career scientists.


Title: FG-05 Marine conservation in the UN Decade on Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

Organizer(s): Dr. Jörn Schmidt

The purpose of this focus group is to summarize the outcome of IMCC6 and to develop recommendations to feed into the planning process of the UN Decade on Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The Decade will be held from 2021 to 2030 and will provide a common framework to ensure that ocean science can fully support countries’ actions to sustainably manage the Oceans and more particularly to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Thus, the contribution of marine conservation is crucial. The focus group will collect the outcome of the workshops and sessions of IMCC6 and discuss it with representatives of SCB and other organisations to develop a set of recommendations to feed into the planning process of the Ocean Decade.


Title: FG-06 Networking Lunch (or HAPPY HOUR): Connecting New Scientists with Ideas to Veteran Scientists with Money

Organizer(s): Mr. Mark Ferne, Dr. Stephanie Green

As an early-career or new scientist, it's often difficult (especially at international conferences) to find professional connections in line with your research interests. Even more challenging is finding those individuals or organizations that might be able to fund them!
This focus group invites those attendees at their first IMCC conference to connect with those that have yet to miss one, and everything in-between. We will connect individuals to each other through a variety of safe and inclusive activities that will generate connections and research opportunities in addition to adding business cards to their rolodex. Led by a student affairs and fundraising professional and his partner (an assistant professor who has been both the new scientist with ideas and is now the one with the money), the facilitators will guide the participants in ways that will both introduce them to the right people at the conference and allow meaningful (and impactful) connections. Attend this valuable focus group to build your list of connections, increase the likelihood your research will be funded, and make this conference just feel a bit smaller!


Title: FG-07 Ocean Limited: A game-based learning approach for sustainable ocean development

Organizer(s): Dr. Stefan Koenigstein, Ms. Lena Heel

Sustainable ocean governance and conservation are challenged by a range of anthropogenic pressures and the increasing impacts of climate change on the ocean. To teach an understanding of ocean systems to future generations of users and consumers, new approaches to an education for sustainable ocean development are needed. Game-based learning approaches have high potential to teach marine conservation and sustainable governance from an interdisciplinary and integrated social-ecological systems perspective.
We developed a novel table-top, role-playing game for marine sustainability education at the high school level and above (www.ocean-limited.com). Ocean Limited lets players take on the roles of different ocean stakeholders, and negotiate their ocean uses and interactions. The game provides a comprehensive integration of current marine sustainability challenges, social-ecological trade-offs among ocean uses, and climate change impacts on ocean resources and users. The game stimulates systemic and foresighted thinking, and can be used to examine relevant social factors for decision-making and sustainability-oriented cooperation, supporting collective learning of problem-solving capacities for sustainable ocean governance.
In this focus group session, we will conduct an interactive game session with 10–24 participants (additional spectators are welcome). We will also briefly present the science and educational concepts behind Ocean Limited, ask for participants’ feedback on the game and have an open discussion about the potential of game-based approaches for marine education. We plan to conceptualize an overview paper on marine sustainability games, and to establish a working group on the topic (e.g. via an EU COST action).


Title: FG-08 Revisiting the “Seventy-One Important Questions for the Conservation of Marine Biodiversity”

Organizer(s): Prof. John Cigliano, Dr. Edward Christien Parsons

A research prioritization exercise workshop was held at IMCC2 to identify a set of questions that, if answered, would contribute substantially to global marine conservation. The result of this, and a follow-up workshop, was the paper “Seventy-One Important Questions for the Conservation of Marine Biodiversity.” We intended for this paper to serve as a road map for researchers, policy makers, managers, and granting agencies seeking to prioritize funding. By all measures, it has been successful and influential. The paper has been highly cited and downloaded, and the questions identified in this publication have been used to frame the scientific program of all subsequent IMCCs. However, a lot has changed - for good and bad - since the exercise was performed in 2011 and 2012. So, it is time to revisit these questions to identify where progress has been made and where it has not, as well as to identify gaps and potential new questions that need to be answered. Therefore, we propose to hold a 2-day focus group to revisit the 71 Questions. In addition, we will also revisit “The Kraken in the Aquarium: Questions that Urgently Need to be Addressed in Order to Advance Marine Conservation.” This paper, which was another outcome of the research prioritization exercise workshop, identified questions related to areas of ecological, social, and economic research that include external drivers, or required sizable paradigm shifts to address.


Title: FG-09 SEAFOAM 1.0:  Building an Anthropogenic Ocean Layer using Critical GIS

Organizer(s): Dr. Stacy Warren, Ms. Najeda Patolo, Dr. Leslie Cornick

Examining how humans interact with the earth in the Anthropocene is central to addressing challenges facing the global community. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are a key tool in developing robust and relevant geospatial understanding.  Critical GIS practitioners engage with geospatial information through the collection, construction, and spatial analysis that culminates in GIS data layers, and awareness of the cultural, social, political, and economic contexts within which data are created and used.  While many different aspects of anthropogenic marine activities have been captured through GIS datasets, the heterogeneity of theme, scale, locale, purpose, and format make it challenging to operationalize a comprehensive understanding of oceans as anthropogenic features of global scale. We propose the creation of a prototype anthropogenic ocean GIS layer, SEAFOAM 1.0, that draws from recent work by the Laboratory for Anthropogenic Landscape Ecology but applies it to marine environments.  The “Anthromes” layer employs novel ways to classify land-based raster cells using unique codes calculated from population density, land use, biota, climate, terrain, and geology, but stops at the water’s edge – everything beyond is coded ‘null.’  Here we explore how to translate anthropogenic understandings of the many ways marine space is conceptualized, utilized, and impacted into a similarly concise raster layer.  In bringing together marine biologists, geographers, critical GIS specialists and others, our goals are to (1) explore classification strategies for the breadth of natural and human characteristics at the core of anthropogenic marine environments, and (2) identify critical GIS database development techniques best suited to represent that information digitally as a single planetary raster layer. Our ultimate goal is to create an innovative, easily accessible layer that allows both novice and advanced GIS users to drape an anthropogenic ocean canvas over vast parts of their world maps that otherwise had been, quite literally, empty.


Title: FG-10 Standardizing tracking and reporting of success in coastal marine ecosystem restoration

Organizer(s): Mr. Aaron Eger, Prof. Adriana Vergés, Dr. Elisa Bayraktarov, Dr. Megan Saunders

Coastal marine ecosystems and the functions they supply are increasingly degrading because of climate change and other anthropogenic pressures. In most instances, these ecosystems lack the natural capacity to return to their previous states without additional human intervention. Resultantly, societies are investing in the directed restoration of ecosystems such as coral reefs, kelp forests, seagrasses, saltmarshes, oyster reefs, and mangroves. This investment is expected to increase and the decade, 2020-2030, has been marked as the “Decade on Ecosystem Restoration” by the United Nations. As restoration expands, efforts to coordinate programs, analyze outcomes, and develop best practice guidelines are also increasing. These large-scale analyses are necessary to develop evidence-based policy but the lack of coordination between projects as well as the disparity in standardized monitoring and reporting of restoration limits the efforts to synthesise outcomes.
The existing restoration guidelines focus on maintaining records related to general ecosystem properties; they do not provide detailed specifics about the exact variables to record, their formatting, standards for comparable analyses, the financial cost of restoration, methodologies, or the social factors involved in restoration. Because of their ambiguous structure, the current guidelines do not provide a replicable, standardized framework for reporting and haven’t been tailored to the unique contexts presented by marine ecosystems.
This focus group proposes to use IMCC as a meeting point to bring together coastal marine restoration experts from academia, NGOs, industry, and governments - municipal to federal, and develop a comprehensive framework to report on marine restoration methodologies and outcomes. This framework will be usable in all marine ecosystems and will facilitate more informed and hopefully, more successful marine restoration planning.


Title: FG-11 Marine Social Sciences: Looking to a sustainable future for marine conservation

Organizer(s): Dr. Emma McKinley, Dr. Rachel Kelly, Ms. Mary MacKay, Dr. Chris Cvitanovic

Recent years have seen a growing level of interest in the human dimensions of marine and coastal issues – with this comes the potential to develop a collaborative international research agenda, setting out global priorities to further examine the intricacies of societal relationships with our seas and coasts. As we move into the UN Decade for Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, it is of increasing importance that the relationship between people and the global ocean, coasts and seas is better understood and consider how marine social sciences can play a bigger role in global ocean governance and wider marine conservation efforts.
Following on from the associated Special Symposia Session “MarSocSci: Developments, expansion and the future of marine social science”, this focus group will bring together researchers and practitioners from across marine science, to discuss how we can work together to ‘make marine science matter’.  Drawing on key themes from the Symposia, the focus group will provide an interactive discussion space for attendees to discuss how marine social sciences can be used to enhance and support delivery of sustainable marine conservation, examining topics including governance, blue growth, fisheries, climate change, as well as considering methodological best practice. We will consider how we can establish effective pathways to impact for marine social sciences within global ocean governance and policy, and highlight opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration across the global marine social science community, including: the formation of thematic Special Interest Groups for the Marine Social Science Network, as well as discussing how we can move towards improved integration across the science-policy-practice interface to support effective marine conservation in the face of an ever changing environment.