Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Clear Communications Key to Ocean Conservation

At the beginning of a wet and balmy week on the verdant Caribbean isle of Guadeloupe, approximately sixty participants converged for the 4th International Tropical Marine Ecosystem Management Symposium (ITMEMS4). The aim of ITMEMS is to bring together coastal and marine managers in order that they may share knowledge, experiences and tools for tackling common challenges of managing tropical ecosystems, which include coral reefs, seagrasses and mangroves.

“ITMEMS has provided me with an opportunity to share lessons and
best practices with other professionals from tropical regions around the world.”
Dishon Murage – Marine & Coastal Resources Programme Coordinator,
East African Wildlife Society, Kenya

Scott Radway, Director of SeaWeb's Asia Pacific Programme,
facilitates a communications training session. Photo - Russ Avery.

It’s all too rare that marine and coastal managers are able to meet face-to-face with each other, and with communications experts, coral reef scientists and technical trainers to discuss the issues they face in their work. The participants at this latest ITMEMS represented twenty-one countries in total, covering a truly vast area of ocean and variety of tropical marine ecosystems.

Throughout the symposium, participants gathered in
small groups for tailored workshops. Photo - Russ Avery

The reason this symposium continues to be so effective is that although coastal and marine managers may be from different countries and cultures, they all share the same challenges. Over four packed days in Guadeloupe, participants engaged with each other in a variety of workshops and mentoring sessions. The buzz was constant throughout the conference and there was a tangible energy in each of the discussions, which overflowed into the evenings, long after the days’ sessions came to an end.

“ITMEMS has provided me with the capacity-building tools to take back home and help us with the development of our management system.”
Alwyn Ponteen – Chief Fisheries Officer,
Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing & Environment, Montserrat

The ITMEMS4 group. 21 countries were represented
by approximately sixty participants. Photo - Russ Avery.

At ITMEMS4, successful communications has not only enabled participants to share their knowledge with each other, but has also offered new ideas and step-wise tools to enable more effective engagement of local communities and stakeholders in management once they have returned home. The success of the symposium has demonstrated that the need for effective communications among the ocean conservation community is crucial.

“Coming to ITMEMS has been a great experience – learning from regional colleagues and partners within the wider Caribbean and also internationally”
Annelise Hagan – Science Programme Director,
Southern Environmental Association, Belize

The setting sun as seen from Sainte-Anne, Guadeloupe.
Photo - Russ Avery.

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