Sea Grant Fellows Forum

By Sheril Kirshenbaum

The Nicholas Institute and special guests in policy, academia, and the nonprofit community spend a day with the 2008 John A. Knauss Sea Grant Fellows.

On April 25, the class of 2008 John A. Knauss Sea Grant Fellows attended the Nicholas Institute’s Fellows Forum at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s main offices in Silver Spring, MD.

The first speaker was Dr. Raphael Sagarin, Director of Ocean and Coastal Policy at the Nicholas Institute.  Dr. Sagarin talked about the mission of the Institute and how it serves to bridge the gap that exists between scientists and policymakers.  He described current projects including ocean zoning analysis, fisheries counsel advising, ecosystem based management synthesis, and the Real Oceans website to build a marine science community that interacts and exchanges information using new media.

Next Sheril Kirshenbaum, Associate in Ocean and Coastal Policy spoke about the communications project at the Institute to improve oceans messaging through outreach and marketing research.  She described the disconnect between the public and marine science and the way we might be able to utilize expertise in business to create a better outreach initiatives that resonate.  The Nicholas Institute is currently in the process of conducting survey analysis through polling to determine how positive and negative frames may influence personal action.

The next session featured a panel of former Sea Grant Fellows including Kirsten Larsen with the National Marine Fisheries Service (’05), Emily Knight in the House Resource Committee (’06), and Kassandra Cerveny at the Marine Conservation Biology Institute (’07).  Each Knauss alum discussed her own experiences during the Fellowship year and the influence it had on her current direction.  Current Fellows asked interesting questions about what to expect and how to make the most of their time in DC.  Key messages of the session were that Fellows must work together and get to know each other, that policy is not as black and white as it seems on the outside, and that they should think of each other, alumni, and institutions like the Nicholas Institute as resources for guidance.

Over lunch, a valuable third panel took place examining ocean zoning.  Dr. Steven Murawski, director of scientific programs and chief science advisor at the National Marine Fisheries Service began by calling ocean zoning a compelling analog to terrestrial zoning.  However he emphasized that oceans are different because there is public ownership of all the spatial resources.  Exclusivity of use is a key issue and occurs through leases from the Mineral Management Service (MMS), aquaculture delineations, sanctuaries and fishery closed areas, hazard zones, and more.  He asked whether spatial write-offs are feasible and considered their consequences.  Finally, Dr. Murawski discussed if ocean zoning would be compatible with the goals of EBM.

The second speaker was Dr. Elliott Norse, president of the Marine Conservation Biology Institute (MCBI).  Dr. Norse is co-leader of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis Working Group on Ecosystem-based Management for the Oceans: The Role of Zoning. He described the way topography, oceanography, biology and human uses differ tremendously between regions.  Ecosystem-based management addresses this complexity by managing different places in ways that are tailored to each place, while maintaining the processes that connect them with other places.

Finally, Dr. Larry Crowder, Stephen Toth Professor of Marine Biology at the Nicholas School spoke.  In 2006, he published “Resolving Mismatches in US Ocean Governance” in Science (vol 313, pp 617-618) with many researchers including Dr. Norse.  Dr. Crowder discussed the way ocean zoning might change how we govern oceans from the current strategies to a place-based approach.

The Ocean Zoning panel and question and answer period incited more questions than the Forum had time for, but we were thrilled at the level of interest and excitement from the current class of Sea Grant Fellows.  If they represent the future in marine policy, oceans are in very capable hands!

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