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Day 2 Wrap-Up, Part 2: Panelists’ Comments

After François Gauthiez and Patricio Bernal finished summarizing workshops, guest speakers gave their own take on the topic of the day: Science and Knowledge in the Service of Effective Management. Below are a few excerpts.

Throughout the day, Jihuyn Lee (CBD Secretariat) had ample occasion to reflect that Ecologically and Biologically Significant Zones (EBSAs) are often misunderstood. Three years after the CBD started registering EBSAs, they now have been identified across 75 percent of the oceans. Yet many mistake for a management tool what was meant as a scientific one. Not all EBSAs must necessarily become MPAs, and not all MPAs can be designated as EBSAs.

Xavier Pastor (Oceana) spoke for conservation activists and said that while efforts to invent new legal tools were commendable, existing ones often aren't enforced: "Just like you, we would like to move towards more protective statutes. But all too often, we find ourselves acting as mere watchdogs, trying to make sure the law is not blatantly disregarded."

Gilles Leboeuf (French National Museum of Natural History), representing the scientific community, sounded the alarm in the face of ocean acidification, climate change and rising sea levels: "Even if you protect an area like the apple of your eye, be warned that it still may be taken away from you. Now is the time to act against global threats."

Lyle Glowka (Convention on Migratory Species) chose to remain optimistic and noted that new technologies make data less abstract. Faced with striking visuals showing the ocean's interconnectedness, decision-makers realize they share a common heritage and show more willingness to engage in cross-border cooperation.

But Charles Ehler (Unesco's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission) said that for real change to materialize, natural science needs to be augmented with the wisdom of social scientists, ethnographers and philosophers. "We can have the best scientific models and still make terrible decisions." Unless they learn to weigh in human and cultural factors, MPA managers may well miss their mark.

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