Symposium on Marine Conservation Biology

Coral Health and Monitoring Program coral at
Tue Aug 5 12:15:58 EDT 1997

The following message is from the ECOLOG-L listserver, and has relevance
to the coral-list listserver.  There are two parts: a description of the
symposium, and a "Troubled Waters" statement.


Date:    Thu, 31 Jul 1997 10:24:19 -0800
From:    Aaron B Tinker <atinker at ACCESSONE.COM>
Subject: Symposium on Marine Conservation Biology

(sorry for any cross-postings)

After the successful completion of the first Symposium on Marine
Conservation Biology, I'd like to share some observations for those who
couldn't attend what one participant called "the Woodstock" of marine
conservation biology. Held at the Society for Conservation Biology's Annual
Meeting at the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia, June
4-6, and organized by Elliott Norse, President of Marine Conservation
Biology Institute (MCBI), this Symposium represented the largest gathering
of scientific presentations on marine conservation biology ever assembled.
Among the presenters and 1000-plus attendees from at least 30 nations were
premier marine scientists including Bob Paine, Paul Dayton, John Ogden,
Steve Palumbi, Tundi Agardy, Jon Lien, Jeff Levinton, Dick Strathmann,
Stuart Pimm and other stars of marine sciences.

A round of applause is in order for the Society for Conservation Biology
(SCB) for recognizing the need to expand conservation biology research into
the marine realm, and strengthening its commitment to making marine
conservation a significant part of its focus (including its heightened
interest in publishing manuscripts on marine topics in its superb journal
Conservation Biology). Although this meeting served as the inaugural event
for the new discipline of marine conservation biology, the hundreds of
papers presented demonstrate that marine conservation biologists have
already been looking at crucial marine conservation questions ranging from
the value of marine protected areas to the impacts of harmful algal blooms.
While previous SCB annual meetings have held only two sessions of talks on
marine species and ecosystems, this meeting had 44 marine sessions on a
wide range of marine topics, among them alien species, declining fisheries,
conservation of coral reefs and coastal ecosystems, conservation of
cetaceans, and genetics and conservation of marine organisms. The meeting
began with a stirring Keynote call to action by marine ecologist Jane
Lubchenco and ended with a sobering Plenary by marine paleoecologist Jeremy

Two central themes emerged from all of the presentations, panel
discussions, speeches, and conversations. The first is that fishing is the
greatest threat to marine ecosystems today. The second is the need for a
dramatic increase in the number and effectiveness of marine protected areas
- including more areas with no take zones to allow populations and habitats
to recover from fishing pressures. This seems consistent with recent calls
by Jane Lubchenco, Past President of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, and others, that 20% of the world's marine waters
be included in marine reserves by the year 2020 -- a bold figure
politically, given the minuscule percent of the sea currently protected and
the weakness of many protections in these areas. Still, there were many
marine conservation biologists claiming that this would not be enough if we
want to sustain fisheries and protect marine biodiversity.

To express their concern about the decline of marine ecosystems and the
urgent need for citizen and government action to conserve them, over 400
scientists signed onto "Troubled Waters: A Call for Action" which will be
released to the media after more have had a chance to sign on. MCBI urges
all concerned scientists to read this statement and sign on by contacting
me <Aaron Tinker> at MCBI's Redmond WA office via email at
<atinker at>. The statement will be appearing on this
listserver [e.g., ECOLOG-L], and also can be read at MCBI's web page


Date:    Thu, 31 Jul 1997 10:24:30 -0800
From:    Aaron B Tinker <atinker at ACCESSONE.COM>
Subject: Troubled Waters Statement

(sorry for any cross-postings)

When scientists speak with one voice, the media, the public and decision
makers pay attention. The time is now ripe for scientists to make a public
statement on threats to marine biodiversity and the need for action to
conserve it. The following statement was drafted and sent to prominent
scientists who offered many improvements and signed on. Marine Conservation
Biology Institute is now circulating the statement for signatures to marine
scientists and conservation biologists (senior scientists and
scientists-in-training as well); upon gaining enough signatures, the
statement will be released to the media.

More than 400 marine scientists and conservation biologists have already
signed (partial list follows the statement). Timing is very important in
this effort, so please respond by email as soon as possible, and please
include your NAME, TITLE, and AFFILIATION. A copy of the statement is also
available from our website at - to sign, please send me
an email (Aaron Tinker, MCBI Program Assistant - atinker at

We, the undersigned marine scientists and conservation biologists, call
upon the world's citizens and governments to recognize that the living sea
is in trouble and to take decisive action. We must act quickly to stop
further severe, irreversible damage to the sea's biological diversity and

Marine ecosystems are home to many phyla that live nowhere else. As vital
components of our planet's life support systems, they protect shorelines
from flooding, break down wastes, moderate climate and maintain a
breathable atmosphere. Marine species provide a livelihood for millions of
people, food, medicines, raw materials and recreation for billions, and are
intrinsically important.

Life in the world's estuaries, coastal waters, enclosed seas and oceans is
increasingly threatened by: 1) overexploitation of species, 2) physical
alteration of ecosystems, 3) pollution, 4) introduction of alien species,
and 5) global atmospheric change. Scientists have documented the extinction
of marine species, disappearance of ecosystems and loss of resources worth
billions of dollars. Overfishing has eliminated all but a handful of
California's white abalones. Swordfish fisheries have collapsed as more
boats armed with better technology chase ever fewer fish. Northern right
whales have not recovered six decades after their exploitation supposedly
ceased. Steller sea lion populations have dwindled as fishing for their
food has intensified. Cyanide and dynamite fishing are destroying the
world's richest coral reefs. Bottom trawling is scouring continental shelf
seabeds from the poles to the tropics. Mangrove forests are vanishing.
Logging and farming on hillsides are exposing soils to rains that wash silt
into the sea, killing kelps and reef corals. Nutrients from sewage and
toxic chemicals from industry are overnourishing and poisoning estuaries,
coastal waters and enclosed seas. Millions of seabirds have been oiled,
drowned by longlines, and deprived of nesting beaches by development and
nest-robbing cats and rats. Alien species introduced intentionally or as
stowaways in ships' ballast tanks have become dominant species in marine
ecosystems around the world. Reef corals are succumbing to diseases or
undergoing mass bleaching in many places. There is no doubt that the sea's
biological diversity and integrity are in trouble.

To reverse this trend and avert even more widespread harm to marine species
and ecosystems, we urge citizens and governments worldwide to take the
following five steps:
1. Identify and provide effective protection to all populations of marine
species that are significantly depleted or declining, take all measures
necessary to allow their recovery, minimize bycatch, end all subsidies that
encourage overfishing and ensure that use of marine species is sustainable
in perpetuity.
2. Increase the number and effectiveness of marine protected areas so that
20% of Exclusive Economic Zones and the High Seas are protected from
threats by the Year 2020.
3. Ameliorate or stop fishing methods that undermine sustainability by harming
the habitats of economically valuable marine species and the species they
use for food and shelter.
4. Stop physical alteration of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems
that harms the sea, minimize pollution discharged at sea or entering the
sea from the land, curtail introduction of alien marine species and prevent
further atmospheric changes that threaten marine species and ecosystems.
5. Provide sufficient resources to encourage natural and social scientists to
undertake marine conservation biology research needed to protect, restore
and sustainably use life in the sea.

Nothing happening on Earth threatens our security more than the destruction
of our living systems. The situation is so serious that leaders and
citizens cannot afford to wait even a decade to make major progress toward
these goals. To maintain, restore and sustainably use the sea's biological
diversity and the essential products and services that it provides, we must
act now.

**end of statement** A few of the over 400 endorsements gathered include:
Jane Lubchenco, Michael Soule, Jim Carlton, Sylvia Earle, Jon Lien, Elliott
Norse, Robert Paine, Winston Ponder, Stephen Palumbi, Carl Safina, Paul
Dayton, Gary Meffe, John Ogden, Jeff McNeely, Victorin Mallet, Judith and
Fred Grassle, George Rabb, Jeff Levinton, Les Watling, Liana and John
McManus, Dee Boersma, Les Kaufman, Bruce Robison, Dennis Murphy, Paul
Ehrlich, Elizabeth Flint, Julia Parrish, Richard Brusca, Don McAllister,
Rod Fujita, Cheryl Ann Butman, Gary Davis, John Terborgh, Ed Bowlby, Joshua
Sladek Nowlis, Michelle Paddack, Callum Roberts, Anson Hines, Chris Glass,
Monte Hummel, JoAnn Burkholder, Andrew Cohen, Jeremy Jackson, Yuvenaly
Zaitsev, Sabine Jessen, Deborah Crouse, Jack Sobel, Robert Spies, Katherine
Ralls, Larry Dill, Judith Weis, Nancy Turner, Peter Auster, Michelle Wood,
Timothy Werner, Stuart Pimm, Bruce Menge, Marjorie Reaka-Kudla, Bruce
Leighty, David Schindler, Jack Williams, Devra Kleiman, Richard Harbison,
Shao Kwang-Tsao, Tundi Agardy and many others.


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