From Species at Risk to the Science-Policy Interface: EIUI at Conferences

After two years of cancelled or online-only conferences, members of the EIUI research team welcomed the opportunity to attend and participate in in-person conferences again where discussion and many conversations flowed around research work and resource management subjects. Two recent nearby conferences allowed several team members to present the results of current research projects and to receive feedback from researchers and practitioners attending these meetings.

At the Atlantic Canada Coastal and Estuarine Science Society (ACCESS) and the Bay of Fundy Ecosystem Partnership (BoFEP) jointly hosted conference on “Advancing Estuarine and Coastal Science and Ocean and Climate Literacy,” 17-21 May 2022, five posters and two oral presentations were featured in the conference program. Simon-Luc Noël, a Master of Environmental Studies student, was awarded the first runner-up prize for a poster about his thesis project on the decision-making processes for a species at risk, namely, the Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon. Philippe Mongeon, faculty member in the School of Information Management, presented a poster, co-authored with Lisa Long, Master of Information graduate, and Bertrum MacDonald, that illustrated a bibliometric analysis of recent research literature about the science-policy interface related to marine subjects. Daniel Martinez Calderon, an Interdisciplinary PhD student, presented a poster that compared integrated coastal zone management with marine spatial planning. Monica DeVidi, a recent Master of Planning graduate, presented a poster, co-authored with Patricia Manuel, faculty member in the School of Planning, and Bertrum MacDonald, that illustrated a study about how municipal governments could be engaged in marine spatial planning. Michael Butler, Director, International Ocean Institute-Canada, presented a poster, co-authored with Lawren Lowther, Kerri MacPherson, and Peter Wells, about the activities of the Ocean Literacy Working Group of BoFEP. Bertrum MacDonald, faculty member in the School of Information Management, spoke about a project conducted with Lisa Long and Peter Wells that is considering the role of informal scientific communication in decision processes drawing on a case study of the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment. Peter Wells spoke about BoFEP’s 25-year history of promoting ocean and climate literacy (co-authored with Jon Percy, Graham Daborn, Sandra Currie, and Michael Butler).

Concurrent with the ACCESS/BoFEP conference, three posters about marine spatial planning were presented at the Ocean Frontier 2022 Conference, 16-19 May 2022, by the Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI) research team co-led by Dr. Patricia Manuel, Dalhousie University School of Planning, and Dr. Bertrum MacDonald, Dalhousie University School of Information Management. A collective poster by the team outlined the research activities of this group since it was launched in 2018. Daniel Martinez Calderon and Monica DeVidi presented posters similar to their ACCESS/BoFEP conference posters.

Participation in the concurrent conferences meant juggling full schedules, but members of both the EIUI and OFI teams came away from the two meetings with an appreciation for current research on coastal and ocean subjects and the importance of the ocean in dealing with the challenges of climate change. In addition, the conferences provided welcomed opportunities to meet and talk with a diversity of individuals affiliated with a wide range of institutions, organizations, and businesses in the region and further afield that are focused on marine interests.


Posters at the ACCESS / BoFEP Conference


Posters at the ACCESS-BoFEP 2022 conference


Lisa Long, Philippe Mongeon, and Bertrum H. MacDonald, “Situating Atlantic Canada in the global research on the science-policy interface and the oceans”

Abstract: Occupying more than 90% of the habitable space on earth, the oceans are essential for the ecosystem, economic, social, and political sustainability of the planet. Immense pressures, e.g., over exploitation of marine resources, have placed marine environments at serious risk. Researchers, managers, and policy makers around the world are giving increasing attention to the complexity of factors contributing to the deterioration of the oceans, which is resulting in a growing body of literature about the intersection of research and policy about marine environments. Using a variety of databases we identified 410 research publications about the science-policy interface specifically related to the oceans published between 2013 and 2021. We then used the Web of Science to collect records of papers cited by or citing the 368 papers to determine that 24,492 other publications are linked in the global citation network. This poster will present an analysis of the network of these 24,292 papers to illustrate the global research landscape in which the ocean science-policy interface studies are situated. We will give particular attention to the different topics represented in the network, and the relative position that the science-policy interface research occupies. We will also outline the contribution of authors in the Atlantic provinces, both in terms of the attention that the region has received as a research object or setting, and the contribution of Atlantic Canada researchers to global research understanding of ocean science and policy. In addition to these findings, the poster will identify research opportunities meriting attention.

Simon-Luc Noël, Karen F. Beazley, and Bertrum H. MacDonald, “Perspectives on assessing recovery feasibility of Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon, Salmo Salar, 20 Years on”

Abstract: Despite being the focus of significant recovery efforts under the Species At Risk Act (SARA) since 2003, the endangered Atlantic salmon of the inner Bay of Fundy (iBoF) have seen little improvement in abundance or rates of return. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is “uncertain whether the overall recovery goals and objectives … remain relevant and achievable” for the population (DFO, 2021). Setting relevant and measurable recovery goals is an important component of overall success for endangered species management. In the context of SARA, the process of determining the feasibility of recovery for a species plays a significant role in shaping short- and long-term recovery goals for a species. Relatively little research has been done on the feasibility determination process. However, the 2021 SARA policy on survival and recovery outlines new guidelines on determining recovery feasibility, providing an opportunity to examine this under-studied process and gain insights on how recovery goals are set under the Act. This research explores recovery feasibility determination in the case of iBoF salmon, through a qualitative analysis of government reports and documentation on recovery planning efforts for the species, as well as interviews with current and past members of the iBoF Salmon Recovery Team. In this poster, we will identify key themes associated with recovery feasibility and its determination along with the barriers and enablers to assessing feasibility, with the goal of characterizing how perspectives on the topic have changed over time.

Monica DeVidi, Patricia Manuel, and Bertrum H. MacDonald, “Implementation of marine spatial planning in Atlantic Canada: Considering a role for municipal governments”

Abstract: The first-generation Marine Spatial Plan for the Scotian Shelf-Bay of Fundy will be completed by March 2024. Marine spatial planning (MSP) is mostly an activity initiated and managed by senior levels of governments. Coastal communities will be impacted by decisions about marine management, but due to lack of jurisdiction in marine spaces coastal municipalities are usually not involved, even though they could provide local knowledge and planning protocols that could support planning in the marine environment. This poster reports on a study that explored the role for municipalities in MSP in Nova Scotia. Interviews were conducted with participants from government and non-governmental organizations. While the views about the purpose and processes of MSP varied, all participants saw the need for input from every level of government. The results suggest that knowledge of MSP and understanding of a municipal government role is limited. The participants were skeptical about what senior government understands about municipal governments’ planning capabilities and what they could offer to MSP processes. If MSP is intended to facilitate sustainable marine management while promoting a blue economy, coastal communities should be primary beneficiaries. Coastal communities occupy the land-sea interface; yet, as many interviewees pointed out, the land and sea are often separated in planning processes. This poster will suggest how MSP in the Nova Scotia context can include local government in marine sector decision-making, leading to marine plans with local relevance and connection across planning systems.

Daniel Martinez Calderon, “Towards comprehensive coastal-marine policy: Comparison of integrated coastal zone management and marine spatial planning”

Abstract: Coastal and marine ecosystems are closely linked by socioeconomic, biophysical, and geochemical processes. Therefore, coastal-marine spaces should be managed in an integrated way and recognize land-sea interactions. Today, two approaches dominate coastal-marine management. Integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) has been implemented in coastal planning (although not in Canada), while marine spatial planning (MSP) has been applied in marine systems (Canada has adopted MSP). ICZM is similar to MSP. Understanding the potential for synergies between the two requires a comprehensive analysis of their differences and linkages. Based on a literature review, this poster will outline the differences and similarities. The approaches differ in four aspects: 1. while a sectoral approach characterized the origin of ICZM, MSP roots are found in marine conservation and environmental zoning; 2. ICZM is process-oriented and emphasizes integration across agencies and sectors whereas MSP seeks to allocate human activities in marine spaces effectively; 3. ICZM focuses on the coastal zone (nearshore waters to inland backshore), while MSP covers marine areas (mainly the territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone); and 4. ICZM is based on a local context and MSP is area-based. On the other hand, linkages include: 1. a shared area of interest in the territorial sea; 2 provincial jurisdiction applies to both approaches; and 3. ICZM and MSP share principles such as stakeholder inclusion; and adaptive, holistic, ecosystem, and future-oriented approaches. Understanding the linkages and differences can contribute to cohesive coastal-marine policy and planning, benefiting both marine and coastal management, especially in Canada.

Michael J. A. Butler, Lauren Lowther, Kerri MacPherson, and Peter G. Wells, “Enhancing ocean literacy in the Fundy community: Continued activities of BoFEP’s working group”

Abstract: A core part of the Bay of Fundy Ecosystem Partnership’s mission is communication and education about environmental issues and challenges facing the Bay of Fundy. One of its working groups focuses on ocean literacy (OL), defined as “understanding the ocean and our relationship to it.” The Working Group has three objectives: (1) Identify the most appropriate ways to introduce the ocean/climate topic into the public school system; (2) Prepare a relevant bibliography; (3) Provide information, on an ongoing basis, to Bay of Fundy communities on the Bay’s environment. To date, the Working Group has organized OL panels at two BoFEP workshops (2016, 2018) to discuss and report on this topic. The subject must be a high priority for the public at large and a responsibility of BoFEP’s diverse membership, hence the current discussion panel of OL leaders at this conference. Next steps: (1) Assist the NS Department of Education in OL initiatives in public schools; (2) Identify appropriate age-appropriate ocean resource material suitable for teachers, with a supporting bibliography; (3) Engage relevant university Faculties of Education on how to include OL training in B.Ed. and M.Ed. degree programs, including short term courses; (4) Strengthen the linkage between OL and citizen science initiatives, given the value of learning by doing; and (5) Consider suggestions coming from the OL panel discussions at this year’s conference. Members of the Bay of Fundy coastal community are invited to join the WG to participate directly in this vital quest to improve public and community understanding of the Bay of Fundy coastal and ocean environment.


Oral Presentations at the ACCESS / BoFEP Conference

Bertrum H. MacDonald, Lisa Long, and Peter G. Wells, “Communication of scientific information: Assessing informal communication practices of the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment”

Abstract: For over three decades, the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment (GOMC) has served “as a forum for the sharing and exchange of scientific information as a basis for management decisions” in the Gulf or Maine and Bay of Fundy. The Council has produced hundreds of publications and promoted informal communication through many meetings, workshops, and conferences. Previously, we completed analyses of the Council’s published output, but did not explicitly examine its informal communication activities. Informal communication has been shown to be important in environmental management in cross-border and cross-jurisdictional contexts. In the case of GOMC, the ongoing informal communications and information exchanges at the twice-yearly meetings of Council members keep government staff informed about projects occurring in each jurisdiction. This informal communication can be transient, but it is more immediate and timely than the substantially validated information resources offered by formal studies and subsequent publications. In this presentation, we will review GOMC’s information exchange practices, which have seen a decline in the number of publications over the past decade, but a continuation of informal communication. We will place this review in the context of recent research on informal communication strategies of environmental organizations, particularly organizations that fulfil a boundary function. We will give attention to who attends Council meetings, noting the organizations and jurisdictions that they represent and the types of information that are exchanged. In our analysis, we will outline the advantages and limitations of relying on informal communication practices, and, based on this analysis, suggest how GOMC could capitalize on the benefits of its informal communication activities.

Peter G. Wells, Jon A. Percy, Graham R. Daborn, Sandra Currie, and Michael J. A. Butler, “Celebrating BoFEP’s 25th anniversary: Reflections and future steps to enhance ocean and climate literacy”

Abstract: This talk reflects on Bay of Fundy Ecosystem Partnership’s achievements and suggests future activities for the group to consider. For 25 years, BoFEP has been a knowledge network and “quiet advocate” for the Bay of Fundy and its watersheds. The group has focussed on creating, sharing and using information and knowledge about the Bay to support its biodiversity and long term ecosystem health. BoFEP has maintained a website, published a periodic newsletter Fundy Tidings, run working groups on selected issues, organized biennial workshops and other topic-focused meetings, and conducted projects on topics ranging from mudflat ecology to contaminants to living shorelines. BoFEP along with other non-governmental organizations and the Bay’s coastal communities continues to wave the Fundy flag, given the uniqueness of its marine and watershed environments. For example, the Bay has six UNESCO sites, from biosphere reserves to geoparks, and many national and provincial sites. At the 2018 workshop, a consensus was reached that BoFEP should continue with its mission of making Bay of Fundy information visible and useful to citizens around the Bay, focussing on communication, outreach, working groups and projects, and advocacy for the Bay o Fundy’s overall health. This activity comes under the banner of ocean and climate literacy, the theme of this conference and a topic of global importance. For the future, BoFEP plans to strengthen its interaction with coastal communities around “understanding the bay and our relationship to it.” Input from everyone is welcomed to ensure a robust future for the Bay and for BoFEP’s role as the Bay’s knowledge network.


Posters at the Ocean Frontier Conference


Posters at the Ocean Frontier 2022 conference


Bertrum H. MacDonald, Patricia Manuel, Monica DeVidi, Daniel Martinez Calderon, and Julia Szujo, “Adaptive research in marine spatial planning: A holistic process with challenges”

Abstract: Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) emerged in the early 2000s as a planning method for managing use of marine spaces and resources while safeguarding marine ecosystems. The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO defines MSP as a “public process of analyzing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic, and social objectives that have been specified through a political process.” Today, more than 70 countries have commenced MSP processes and Canada is in the midst of MSP for five bioregions, three of which are located in Atlantic areas. Intended as a holistic planning process to address multiple, sometimes competing, interests in marine spaces, MSP is an evolving method with widely recognized limitations that will benefit from research insights. Critiques of MSP have highlighted weak local participation due to top-down planning activities and an over-emphasis on industrial sector interests compared to other sectors. This poster presents an overview of research about MSP in Atlantic Canada being conducted by the Dalhousie University-based research group in the OFI module on Social License and Planning for Coastal Communities. This research draws on the knowledge and experience of practitioners in the region set in the context of MSP globally. By pursuing questions about participatory community involvement, the place of municipal governments in MSP processes, and local community decision making processes, this research aims to develop a framework for enabling the engagement of local-level planning expertise in MSP and strengthening the viability of plans generated by MSP initiatives.

Monica DeVidi, Patricia Manuel, and Bertrum H. MacDonald, “Exploring the role for Nova Scotian municipalities in a federal marine spatial planning program.”

Daniel Martinez Calderon, Bertrum H. MacDonald, and Patricia Manuel, “Comparing integrated coastal zone management and marine spatial planning in the pursuit of a comprehensive coastal-marine strategy

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