by Lizzie Huxley-Jones
While one could argue that the theme of the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress in Glasgow, Scotland, is a glut of haggis consumption or taking selfies with stuffed mascots, another theme has uncovered itself through talks over the last couple of days—collaborate and communicate.
Well I suppose that could be two themes, but just work with me.
The call for effective collaboration and communication has been sounded in many of the IMCC3 talks and workshops I have attended over the last few days.
An emphasis on quality not quantity, and inclusive working processes that include all stakeholders, have rung through the calls to action and take-home messages of presentations. Knowledge sharing between diverse stakeholders allows novel thought processes, representation of all viewpoints and broadened potential outreach.
One successful example of this was fisher-to-fisher cross-geographical collaboration, promoted by John Williamson of SeaKeeper as an opportunity for direct peer-to-peer exchange of cultural knowledge that may never have been shared without this engagement. My own work at International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) is currently focused on a fisher exchange of our own (which you can follow online at our website and via #IPNLFvoyage on Twitter), but a collaborative approach runs through all our work, through Fisheries Improvement Projects to encouraging European retailers to fund projects in tuna producing countries.
I came to IMCC to find novel ways of sharing the amazing work we do. Every time I tell someone about the exchange in particular, eyes widen, smiles broaden and cries of “amazing” and “cool” slip out. I want to tap into that instant response, and share the stories of the work IPNLF and our partners do around the world.
The desire to share information is in all of us – we just need to find the tools to do this. The conservation marketing workshop held on Saturday afternoon had around 90 attendees, all keen to gain new skills to tap into the foreign dialects of branding and marketing. We have recognised we need to adapt our stories, but it’s clear we haven’t reached fluency yet, particularly when it comes to that mysterious language of politics.
Future communications aside, it has been astoundingly clear to me that we are, as a community, engaged in some of the best story-sharing platforms. Nowhere is this clearer than Twitter, IMCC’s unofficial communications tool of choice. As Dr. Chris Parsons shared on Twitter, in the first official day of the IMCC, over 6,720 tweets were shared on the conference hashtag by that day. This doesn’t even include the potential comments that were made without including the hashtag. I’m sure plenty of you have noticed those screens don’t always contain the same faces – though I’ve seen mine looming a few too many times for my own comfort level.
By sharing the content of talks and discussions via social media, we are widening our net, sharing ideas across the world with people who were unable to join us in Glasgow and people who may never have thought much about marine conservation before. Hopefully we aren’t preaching to too many of the already converted, but even if we are, at least we are providing them with the new information for improving communication that we are lucky enough to hear first-hand.
Together we are a great force for science and conservation, creating an accessible flow of knowledge in bitesize chunks that will hopefully help combat pseudoscience – I’m looking at you Shark Week – and planetary apathy. Let’s take this enthusiasm for our work, in whatever field it may be, and come together to make the best stories we can. Let’s take a note from the arts and remember Philip Pullman’s wise words: “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world”.
The International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) works to help develop sustainable and equitable pole and line fisheries and to increase the market share of sustainably and equitably caught pole and line tuna. IPNLF, which was launched in November 2011, is officially registered in the UK and has branch offices in the Maldives and Indonesia. IPNLF is a hub for likeminded people and commercial operations that want to support the sustainable and equitable development of pole and line tuna. Membership is open to all organisations involved in the pole and line tuna supply chain, from individual fisheries to communities and markets.