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Politicians must listen to evidence from World Conference on Marine Biodiversity

A team from MCS has just returned from the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity in Aberdeen with the message that the incredible research in the field must be used as a basis for change and improvement.

Sue Ranger, MCS Stakeholder Engagement Officer, says one thing standing in the way of change for our oceans is lack of political will combined with economic concerns.

The event, held in Aberdeen, attracted 952 delegates from 72 countries. MCS were busy giving seven talks, chairing five sessions and allowing four experts the opportunithy to talk at the conference by providing four travel bursaries.

The event brought together everyone from scientists to members of the public with the aim of taking forward biodiversity research and conservation in the worlds oceans. 

Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of Jacques, opened the conference with a presentation on marine conservation and the work he has done since he began his diving exploration with his father over 60 years ago. He highlighted the importance of starting a dialogue with politicians to try and convince them to bring about change in the marine environment. Jean-Michel's experiences back up that point. He told the conferecne about the north-western Hawaiian Islands - an area that had become a depository for plastic rubbish causing major injuries and death of wildlife there. Jean-Michel presented this case to US President George Bush in April 2006 and just three months later the president made the area a national monument!

What people at the conference said:

Shahid Naeem, Columbia University;
"In terms of what they put back into the marine system - marine species are worth 3 times as much as a terrestrial species"  

Jeff Ardron, MPA Specialist and Director General of Marine Conservation Institute, Washington;
Warned that environmental crimes should be treated just like other crimes. "Fisheries have a greater impact on our marine environment than all other human impacts combined. Science has never been this good BUT the state of our marine ecosystems we are studying is at an all time low"  

Ardron on MPAs;
"They  work - they may be simplistic, they may be unscientific but they work - dammit!" 

Paulina Lemke - University of Gdańsk, Institute of Oceanography;
"The majority of marine biodiversity is in an unknown or unfavourable place."  

Johann Sigorjonason - Director General, Marine Research Institute, Iceland;
"World wide more than 40 populations of wildlife have become extinct due to overfishing."    

Nic Bax - University of Tasmania;
"It took 30 years for the Great Barrier Reef to get to 30% No Take Zone - even with this type of management the outlook for the environment is poor."  

Among the MCS delegates was Biodiversity Policy Officer, Dr Jean-Luc Solandt who said  there are many scientists all of whom have analysis on thousands of aspects of marine biodiversity - put all those little pieces of information together and it creates a worrying picture. "Our Your  Seas Your Voice project and our Turks and Caicos Islands Turtle Projects both take a progressive approach whihc  was highlighted as showing how involving and not just informing the public in marine protection decisions can reach a wider audience."        

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