Friday, 5 July 2013

The key element of effective marine planning and management...

One thing seems certain; there is room for improvement in our current planning and management of the marine environment. How can we as scientists help achieve this?

At a recent coastal and marine management conference1 in London, a general theme became clear: Our current marine planning and management regimes can and should be improved. This was right across the board from Government and Industry to NGOs. What also became clear to me, as a trained scientist, was that science itself had been part of the problem. How can these issues be overcome? What is the key?

Communication. I believe it is that simple. Specifically I am referring to communication which is clear, simple and above all suitable for the audience. Take the failed example of the 1998 NASA Mars Climate Orbiter2 landing. According to an Investigation Board, the reason for failure was the lack of clarity on whether metric or imperial units were being used. Cue a gigantic amount of money and time being lost. The problem is, with the marine environment we do not necessarily have this time or money to waste.

Areas that seem to require effective communication are likely to include: 1) scientists helping to define the policy questions to answer; 2) presenting information to policy makers; 3) achieving a truly interdisciplinary approach; and 4) Engagement with stakeholders. All these areas require clear and simple communication to facilitate realistic and deliverable outcomes, which will ultimately help achieve effective marine planning and management. As Einstein once said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler”

Further, effective communication can deliver the type of truly interdisciplinary projects needed in this big data and fast climate changing world we inhabit. All may not be lost from the past however. A wealth of collected data already exists from past projects, all we need to do now is make it relevant and up to date as well as add value through linking disciplines and their data together.

Do you agree, that communication is key? Are there any other key issues en route to achieving effective marine planning and management?


USFWS Endangered Species Flickr - Creative Commons 2.0 Generic

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