Brock’s Geography and Tourism studies hosted a two-hour long seminar entitled Global Marine Conservation: Science, Policy and Territory. The seminar was hosted by Dr. Noella Gray from the Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics at Guelph University.
The seminar held on January 24, 2019, saw Gray expounding on the impact of marine protected areas (MPAs) and the increasing prevalence of ocean nationalism. Gray researches the politics of conservation and environmental governance.
“I consider how science is incorporated into environmental policy, the politics of scale in marine conservation, and how resource management policies are negotiated under co-management arrangements,” said Gray. “I have studied both ecotourism and [MPAs] as examples of conservation interventions and how they contribute to political ecology, common property and science and technology studies.”
MPAs refer to areas of the ocean that are legally protected and managed with the intent being to achieve the long-term conservation and sustainable use of aquatic flora and fauna. The total ocean area under protected status has increased almost tenfold since recent times, and a number of global commitments have further encouraged new territories to establish MPAs.
“The overwhelming response by conservation scientists to the issues that plague the ocean such as dumping of waste and overfishing has been to establish [MPAs],” said Gray.
The entirety of the seminar was focused on factors that are driving the territorialisation process, and what the consequences of this process are by looking at the increase of very large exclusive economic sea zones in countries and the effort to increase the number of protected areas in areas beyond national jurisdiction — the so-called high seas.
Gray presented information based on the findings of two of her recent research projects: a long-term collaborative study of international conservation governance, focused on the evolution of high seas conservation; and a multi-site study of five large-scale MPAs. Gray considered the role of science and technology, as well as both state and non-state actors, in producing conservation territories, and highlighted both the possibilities and limits of territorial thinking in the oceans.
According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the long-term goal for the protection of the territorial oceans is that by 2020, 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, will be conserved through effectively and equitably managed marine protected areas.
Gray’s presentation drew on examples of three of the five territories that she studied: Palau, Kiribati and Bermuda. Both Palau and Kiribati have hit their 10 per cent goal prior to 2020 and have large MPAs bursting with aquatic life. Bermuda, on the other hand, does not have any MPAs despite ongoing debates to create one, however, their oceans are still teeming with aquatic life. Through the use of those examples, Dr. Gray highlighted some of the common arguments for and against the establishment of MPAs.
“We’re at a really striking moment historically in terms of this increase in territorialisation of the ocean space. There’s a lot at stake in all of this line-drawing that’s happening, both for oceans and for the people who depend on them. As we race towards these international targets, I encourage [individuals] not to get lost in the rapid climb to meet an arbitrary target,” said Gray. “Instead, think about what is driving this effort and what the benefits and underlying drawbacks are when we employ certain conservation methods.”
The seminar hosted was the first of a four-part series put on by the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies. Interested students are encouraged to attend the second presentation to be held on February 7 in MCC405 by Dr. Hasan Karrar on 50 years of Pakistan-China Connectivity Across the Karakoram.
Students interested in the work that Dr. Gray is doing can connect with her via email at email@example.com and on social media @NoellaJGray.
Story Reposted from The Brock Press.