Opening our minds to the ocean
By Sue Ranger
For over ten years I have been working to better understand how different people use the coast and sea and how the time they spend there contributes to their wellbeing. This mission was sparked in 2008 when MCS turned 25 and I ran a project called ‘The Sea and Me’ to celebrate.
We invited people to share their stories about what the sea meant to them and what their aspirations for it were, in the coming 25 years. At around the same time came the realisation that many of the things that I could see were deeply important to many people were being completely omitted when it came to making policies and decisions about the future of our coast and sea.
People benefit from the ocean – whether it contributes to their physical and mental health, inspires them, contributes to their livelihood or comforts them – but there is a widespread recognition that monetising or assigning a cash value to some of these benefits doesn’t really do them justice. This is the challenge.
So began the slow process of working out how we at MCS could not only help to build a more complete understanding of the value of the coast and sea to society but also work to demonstrate how that value could be captured and expressed in a credible way.
We are at a point where there is now a much clearer understanding of the range of values the ocean offers and an appetite and energy across government, academia and the NGO sector to find solutions as to how this can be captured and used positively.
I, for one, feel optimistic that things are about to change.