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Today, Oct. 22, François Gauthiez (French MPA Agency) and Patricio Bernal (IUCN) tell us how science interacts with MPA management.
Each day of the Congres is dedicated to a specific topic, under the coordination of two facilitators.
Patricio Bernal: Science is to be understood in a broad sense – not just conservation biology, oceanography or genetics, but also the social sciences. They help to build MPAs upon existing traditions, and not against them.
François Gauthiez: Hard sciences change how we look at the oceans: seascapes once considered barren turn out to shelter amazing biodiversity.
Bernal: The most striking discoveries revolve around seamounts and underwater canyons, which we didn't realize were so rich. They are very fragile and must be protected from trawling.
Gauthiez: Science is also essential to improve the management of existing MPAs. MPAs are effective when managers teamwork with scientists to gain a clear, up-to-date vision of their areas' conservation features and of human impacts – including the impact of their own decisions!
Bernal: Managers usually have a research curriculum, but science and management sometimes remain divided. Some scientists do not realize how valuable their findings can be on the field, while some high-level decision-makers regard science as unable to formulate clear alternatives. These stereotypes must be overcome.
Gauthiez: And communication must be encouraged across regions, too. Science teaches us that ecosystems are connected. Human networks must mirror biological ones.
François Gauthiez is Deputy Director for Public-Policy Development at the French Marine Protected Areas Agency.
Patricio Bernal, former Executive Secretary of the UN's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, is Senior Advisor for the High Seas, IUCN Global Marine and Polar Programe.