Will McLintock marine scientist at the University of Santa Barbara spoke today at the GeoDesign Summit about marine conservation. The traditional approach for conservation is specialized scientists applying research and knowledge and telling government who draw policy, but stakeholders aren’t included and the approach leads to greater conflict. McClintock discussed the process of the creation of a network of protected marine areas in California that was proposed by scientists, yet met major public outrage that meant that the plans were destined to fail.
Often times the use of sophisticated technology has become a barrier to progress, because it doesn’t involve stakeholders. McClintock and a team started the MarineMap Consotrtium (marinemap.org) a mapping system that engaged stakeholders to draw marine conservation plans that are analyzed based on science and shared with other stakeholders. This tool developed inclusive plans that have now been signed into law, with great progress in the amount of coast that is preserved.
GeoDesign provided the means to design and evaluate different perspectives, where stakeholders learn from each other and reach consensus. The next phase of this approach is a global effort to develop a program called SeaSketch that will launch late this coming summer. In this tool there will be the means to define areas to conserve, plan for resource extraction, fishing and recreation uses, among other often conflicting issues. The sketching tool has authoritative data sets as an underpinning, where stakeholders can express decisions or ask questions. These opinions are evaluated based on science, and they can share designs with other uses and build support based on scientific merit.
The tools will be brought first to New Zealand, where there is great conflict between different uses of the rocky coast. The tools to impact policy is no longer restricted to those with specialized knowledge, and we can all participate in the decisions through