Two renowned research fellows in the University's Marine Institute have addressed a major global conference after being invited by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office to be part of the UK's delegation.
Dr Siân Rees and Dr Emma Sheehan, Senior Research Fellows in the School of Biological and Marine Sciences, joined experts from a number of leading national organisations to highlight UK expertise in Marine Protected Area monitoring and management at the fourth International Marine Protected Areas Conference (IMPA4) in Chile.
Attended by more than 800 marine conservation professionals and practitioners, Dr Rees and Dr Sheehan joined the likes of the British Geological Survey, the Marine Management Organisation, and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, to discuss issues relating to MPAs, including governance, efficiency, finance and their surface area expansion.
As part of the event, Dr Rees presented research outputs from the UK and the British Overseas Territories on the evaluation of MPA management effectiveness and the integration of natural capital approaches into decision-making. She said:
“Attending IMPAC 4 as part of the UK delegation to Chile provided an opportunity to showcase British research on the international stage and demonstrate the strengths of the University in applied ecological and social science, supporting the establishment and ongoing implementation of a global, lasting, ecologically representative and effectively managed network of MPAs.”
Dr Sheehan gave three presentations, covering: new results from the University's RETURN project, which looks at MPA response and recovery from storms (funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund); a second talk about the EU Horizon 2020 funded CEFOW project on the ecological response of sea bed habitats to renewable energy and the potential of co-location; and a third talk on behalf of the Blue Marine Foundation about its collaborative work with the University. Dr Sheehan said:
“Joining the British delegation at IMPAC 4 provided a great opportunity to create new collaborations with other scientists working on MPAs from the UK, Chile and all around the world.”
With a strong emphasis on people, the event built upon the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 2016 Hawaii Commitments and called for a step up in ocean conservation and MPA coverage, through increased partnerships and action.