Last month, MPA News published the advice of an international group of scientists on how to improve the conduct and use of science in MPA management. The advice came out of a July 2001 workshop on the topic held in Cleveland, Ohio (USA), involving scientists and managers from more than 20 countries. The workshop was directed by the US National Ocean Service, and immediately preceded the Coastal Zone 2001 conference.

Below, MPA News publishes an excerpt of the advice offered by managers at the workshop. Like last month’s tips from scientists, the managers’ input arose from a brainstorming session at the workshop’s end. Managers who contributed to this advice came from 15 countries on 5 continents.

The advice from managers:

On how communication between scientists and managers can be improved…

The needs of management and the community must be communicated to the scientists, so that the latter group understands how its research will be used. Scientists and managers should participate in joint meetings, and technical advisory boards should be established.

A research translator should be instituted, using a combination of communication mechanisms to interpret research results to managers and policymakers. The translator should recognize that people assimilate information in a variety of ways.

Scientists need to understand their role, which is to serve as unbiased and informative consultants to management and policymaking processes.

On how traditional knowledge can be woven into science and management discussions…

First, managers and scientists must display sensitivity to local culture, and acknowledge the importance of approaching community stakeholders in an open manner. They must also accept that traditional knowledge can be a useful tool in studying and managing marine resources.

Scientists should establish innovative approaches to data collection that include the community. One example: By questioning local women about ingredients in food they are cooking, scientists can gain data on the presence of local marine and coastal species.

Scientists should use local terminology, allowing for traditional knowledge to be incorporated more easily into research efforts.

On how stakeholders can play a role in MPA science…

It is critical for managers and scientists to build trust with the local community, including through the establishment of research-based partnerships. In data-collection activities, for example, scientists should make a concerted effort to involve the local stakeholders who are most resistant to the concept of an MPA. As well, children and local learning institutions should be involved.

Scientists should make use of local resources, such as by enlisting fishers and their boats in research work.

Managers and scientists should establish a community-based monitoring scheme for the site.

For more information on the international workshop

Lynne Mersfelder, International Program Office, National Ocean Service, 1305 East-West Highway, N/IP, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA. Tel: +1 301 713 3078 x172; E-mail: