Marine incentives programs may replace “doom and gloom” with hope
By David Stauth, 541-737-0787
Contact: Jane Lubchenco, 541-737-5337 or email@example.com
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Incentives that are designed to enable smarter use of the ocean while also protecting ocean ecosystems can and do work, and offer significant hope to help address the multiple environmental threats facing the world’s oceans, researchers conclude in a new analysis.
Whether economic or social, incentive-based solutions may be one of the best options to make progress in reducing impacts from overfishing, climate change, ocean acidification and pollution, researchers said in a new report published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
And positive incentives – the “carrot” – work better than negative incentives, or the “stick.”
Part of the reason for optimism, the researchers report, is changing awareness, attitudes and social norms around the world, in which resource users and consumers are becoming more informed about environmental issues and demanding action to address them. That sets the stage for economic incentives that can convert near-disaster situations into sustainable fisheries, cleaner water and long-term solutions.
“As we note in this report, the ocean is becoming higher, warmer, stormier, more acidic, lower in dissolved oxygen and overfished,” said Jane Lubchenco, the distinguished university professor and advisor in marine studies at Oregon State University, lead author of the new report, and U.S. science envoy for the ocean at the Department of State.
“The threats facing the ocean are enormous, and can seem overwhelming. But there’s actually reason for hope, and it’s based on what we’ve learned about the use of incentives to change the way people, nations and institutions behave. We believe it’s possible to make that transition from a vicious to a virtuous cycle. Getting incentives right can flip a disaster to a resounding success.”
The stakes are huge, the scientists point out in their study. The global market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is about $3 trillion a year; more than 3 billion people depend on fish for a major source of protein; and marine fisheries involve more than 200 million people. Ocean and coastal ecosystems provide food, oxygen, climate regulation, pest control, recreational and cultural value.
“Given the importance of marine resources, many of the 150 or more coastal nations, especially those in the developing world, are searching for new approaches to economic development, poverty alleviation and food security,” said Elizabeth Cerny-Chipman, a postdoctoral scholar working with Lubchenco. “Our findings can provide guidance to them about how to develop sustainably.”
In recent years, the researchers said in their report, new incentive systems have been developed that tap into people’s desires for both economic sustainability and global environmental protection. In many cases, individuals, scientists, faith communities, businesses, nonprofit organizations and governments are all changing in ways that reward desirable and dissuade undesirable behaviors.
One of the leading examples of progress is the use of “rights-based fisheries.” Instead of a traditional “race to fish” concept based on limited seasons, this growing movement allows fishers to receive a guaranteed fraction of the catch, benefit from a well-managed, healthy fishery and become part of a peer group in which cheating is not tolerated.
There are now more than 200 rights-based fisheries covering more than 500 species among 40 countries, the report noted. One was implemented in the Gulf of Mexico red snapper commercial fishery, for instance, which was on the brink of collapse after decades of overfishing. A rights-based plan implemented in 2007 has tripled the spawning potential, doubled catch limits and increased fishery revenue by 70 percent.
“Multiple turn-around stories in fisheries attest to the potential to end overfishing, recover depleted species, achieve healthier ocean ecosystems, and bring economic benefit to fishermen and coastal communities,” said Lubchenco. “It is possible to have your fish and eat them too!”
Another success story used by some nations has been combining “territorial use rights in fisheries,” which assign exclusive fishing access in a particular place to certain individuals or communities, together with adjacent marine reserves. Fish recover inside the no-take reserve and ‘spillover’ to the adjacent fished area outside the reserve. Another concept of incentives has been “debt for nature” swaps used in some nations, in which foreign debt is exchanged for protection of the ocean.
“In parallel to a change in economic incentives,” said Jessica Reimer, a graduate research assistant with Lubchenco, “there have been changes in behavioral incentives and social norms, such as altruism, ethical values, and other types of motivation that can be powerful drivers of change.”
The European Union, based on strong environmental support among its public, has issued warnings and trade sanctions against countries that engage in illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. In the U.S., some of the nation’s largest retailers, in efforts to improve their image with consumers, have moved toward sale of only certified sustainable seafood.
Incentives are not a new idea, the researchers noted. But they emphasize that their power may have been under-appreciated.
“Recognizing the extent to which a change in incentives can be explicitly used to achieve outcomes related to biodiversity, ecosystem health and sustainability . . . holds particular promise for conservation and management efforts in the ocean,” they wrote in their conclusion.
Collaborators on this study were from Princeton University. Funding was provided by OSU and the National Science Foundation.
How Should Scientists Talk About Science?
San Diego State University invited Jane to campus for a conversation with students, faculty, and researchers about communicating thier science (December 2015)
Read more at SDSU 360 http://issuu.com/sdsu360mag/docs/360spring2016_3f33aa9e417cfe/13?e=1330685/34196875
US Science Envoy Jane Lubchenco Visits Seychelles
Victoria, Seychelles | August 3, 2015, Monday @ 13:54 in Editorial » THE INTERVIEW | By: Hajira Amla
Dr Lubchenco was in the Seychelles last week on official business - the United States’ Science Envoy for the Ocean spent three days in the Indian Ocean archipelago of 115 islands after visiting South Africa and Mauritius and was given an official reception on Wednesday evening to meet with members of the scientific community, NGOs and other representatives of civil society.
QnAs with Jane Lubchenco
Paul Gabrielsen, Science Writer PNAS
June 15, 2015
Read full story at:
As the first marine ecologist to serve as administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), from 2009 to 2013, Jane Lubchenco found that communicating in the political atmosphere of Washington, DC often required the same attention to subtle cues and environmental context as swimming in complex marine ecosystems.
World Oceans Day: Ocean Acidification (VIDEO)
The Huffinton Post, The Blog
Dr. Jane Lubchenco, former administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), discusses the problem of ocean acidification and explains why its often referred to as "osteoporosis of the sea." Lubchenco, who has been studying the oceans for more than 40 years, she says she's seen things that brought her to tears. But she adds, "I've also seen places come back to life because people cared, because they were willing to do something...that's what we need more of." XPRIZE Insights is a video series that highlights the leading thinkers of our time.
Putting a Price on Nature
By Anna Lieb
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Natural capital is a catch-all concept that covers everything from crop pollination by bees to the water-cleansing properties of wetlands. Consider a coastal mangrove forest, for example, says Jane Lubchenco, professor of marine studies at Oregon State University and one of the editors of the collection. “A lot of people think of mangrove forests as dirty, mosquito-infested places that might as well be converted into something useful,” she says, but in fact mangroves provide many unrecognized benefits. These include taking up toxic runoff, providing habitat for wildlife (including seafood humans later eat), removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and protecting shorelines from storm surges and erosion. (excerpt)
2015 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement Announced
For more information, please contact: Nick Seaver,
(301) 280-5727 firstname.lastname@example.org
Top Indian and U.S. Scientists Share Prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for Work in Changing Policy
42nd Tyler Prize recognizes careers dedicated to informing policy with sound science, engaging local communities
Los Angeles, CA (March 24, 2015) – The Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement Executive Committee today named the Honorable Jane Lubchenco, PhD, of Oregon State University, and Madhav Gadgil, PhD, of Goa University, as the recipients of the 2015 Tyler Prize for their leadership and engagement in the development of conservation and sustainability policies in the United States, India and internationally.
“Drs. Lubchenco and Gadgil represent the very best in bringing high-quality science to policymaking to protect our environment and ensure the sustainability of natural resources in their respective countries and around the world,” said Tyler Prize Executive Committee Chair Owen T. Lind, Professor of Biology at Baylor University. “Both of these laureates have bridged science with cultural and economic realities—like the impact on Indigenous Peoples in India or fishing communities in the United States—to advance the best possible conservation policies.”
Since its inception in 1973 as one of the world’s first international environmental awards, the Tyler Prize has been the premier award for environmental science, environmental health and energy.
As the winners of the Tyler Prize, Lubchenco and Gadgil will share the $200,000 cash prize and each receive a gold medallion. The Prize, awarded by the international Tyler Prize Executive Committee with the administrative support of the University of Southern California, honors exceptional foresight and dedication in the environmental sciences and policy—qualities that mirror the prescience of the Prize’s founders, John and Alice Tyler, who established it while the environmental debate was still in its infancy.
Previous laureates include Edward O. Wilson, recognized for his early work on the theory of island biogeography; Jane Goodall, selected for her seminal studies on the behavior and ecology of chimpanzees and her impact on wildlife awareness and environmental conservation; Jared Diamond and Paul and Anne Ehrlich, renowned authors who helped give birth to the discipline of conservation biology; M.S. Swaminathan, an agricultural scientist who helped dramatically improve crop yields in India; and Thomas Lovejoy, a central figure in alerting the world to the critical problem of dwindling tropical forests. A full list of past winners is available at http://tylerprize.usc.edu/pastlaureates.html.
Dr. Jane Lubchenco: Protecting the Ocean by Bridging Science and Policy
Lubchenco’s career, which has spanned academic appointments and policymaking as the former Administrator of NOAA, has been dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of the ocean and the need to protect it. In December 2014, the U.S. Department of State named Lubchenco the first-ever Science Envoy for the Ocean, to promote this focus on ocean science, marine ecology, climate change and smart policy to a global audience.
“This State Department position gives me a terrific platform to share what works in protecting and restoring the ocean and to promote more—and better—science to inform how we use fisheries and the other resources of the ocean,” said Lubchenco.
This appointment builds on Lubchenco’s career working to bring attention and good science to address the threats to the ocean.
“When I started my career, I was almost entirely focused on how ocean ecosystems work and the cool discovery part of science: why do species live one place and not another? What are the dynamics between species, such as predators and their prey?” said Lubchenco. “But over time, I saw the ocean was changing—sometimes very dramatically—and nobody was paying attention.”
Increasingly, Lubchenco and colleagues grew to understand that many of these changes were caused by humans: dwindling fish stocks from overfishing; increasing ocean acidification due to increased carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere; increased presence of invasive species; and climate change altering which plants and fish thrived in different regions, among other disruptions.
“There were opportunities to change what was happening, but only if more people understood what was happening in our oceans and why it matters,” said Lubchenco. “In the process of communicating this science, I began listening more to lay people, fishermen and scientists, and started seeing that there were entirely new scientific questions that we needed to research to better protect our oceans.”
The emphasis on conducting science to address practical questions and bringing that science to bear on policy drove much of Lubchenco’s work. She served as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the International Council for Science (ICSU), and helped to launch several programs to train scientists to engage more effectively with non-scientists, including the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program, COMPASS and Climate Central.
Setting the Policy Agenda: Restoring Fisheries and Ocean Health
Under her tenure as the Administrator of NOAA, Lubchenco brought together passion for restoring the health of the ocean with her experience engaging all sectors to improve the health of fisheries and ocean ecosystems. Lubchenco advocated for policies based on sound science but flexible for the unique circumstances of different communities and regions.
One of these policies—aimed at restoring fisheries and improving ocean health—is the “catch share” model. This rights-based approach to fisheries changes the economic incentives for fishermen by giving them a stake in the future. Adopted by a number of regional fishery management councils, e.g., in Alaska, along the Pacific Coast, Gulf of Mexico and other regions, this alternate approach to fishery management has driven major advances in restoring healthy fisheries.
“Catch shares provided a powerful complement to the mandate to end overfishing that came from Congress,” said Lubchenco. “The two approaches together have turned many important U.S. fisheries around. Between 2000 and 2013, the number of overfished stocks fell by more than one half, from 92 to 40, and the number of recovered stocks went from zero to 34.”
Lubchenco points out that this model of conservation and sustainable use has been driven by communities on the ground, in partnership with the federal government. Moreover, she says, it proves that the perceived choice between the economy and the environment is a false dichotomy. “Long term economic prosperity depends on a healthy ocean. Policy changes that align conservation and economic incentives can have powerful outcomes.”
“Between the legislative mandate to end overfishing and the adoption of catch shares, we have really transformed U.S. fisheries and demonstrated that there is a path to more profitable, more sustainable fisheries, in healthier ocean ecosystems,” said Lubchenco. “And we’ve inspired other countries to do many of the same things.”
For more information on the Tyler Prize and its recipients, go to: http://www.tylerprize.usc.edu/laureates.html
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE ANNOUNCES NEW SCIENCE ENVOYS
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
MEDIA NOTE: Announcement of U.S. Science Envoys
Four eminent scientists have agreed to serve as U.S. Science Envoys beginning in January, 2015: Dr. Peter Hotez, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Dr. Arun Majumdar, and Dr. Geri Richmond. Announced by President Obama in Cairo in June 2009, the U.S. Science Envoy program demonstrates the United States’ commitment to science, technology, and innovation as tools of diplomacy and economic growth. Like their nine predecessors, these distinguished scientists will engage internationally at the citizen and government levels to develop partnerships, improve collaboration, and forge mutually beneficial relationships between other nations and the United States to stimulate increased scientific cooperation and foster economic prosperity. Science Envoys travel as private citizens and advise the White House, the Department of State, and the scientific community about potential opportunities for cooperation. This year the Department is pleased to announce the first Science Envoy for the Ocean, building on the momentum created at the Our Ocean Conference held at the State Department in June 2014.
Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D., Dean, National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital Endowed Chair in Tropical Pediatrics, University Professor, Baylor University, President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, Baker Institute Fellow in Disease and Poverty at Rice University
Country focus: Saudi Arabia, Morocco
Expertise: Global health and vaccine development
Jane Lubchenco Ph.D., University Distinguished Professor of Marine Biology at Oregon State University and former Administrator of NOAA (2009-2013)
Thematic focus: the Ocean
Expertise: Marine ecology, environmental science, and climate change
Arun Majumdar, Ph.D., Jay Precourt Professor, Senior Fellow, Precourt Institute for Energy, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, and former Founding Director of ARPA-E (2009-2012) & Acting Under Secretary of Energy (2011-2012)
Country focus: Poland, Baltic Region
Expertise: Energy, climate change, and innovation
Geraldine Richmond, Ph.D., Presidential Chair and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oregon and founder of the COACh for women scientists and engineers
Country focus: Thailand and Lower Mekong Initiative Countries
Expertise: Women in science
For further information, please contact Kay Hairston at email@example.com
Forecasts: Hopes and Fears About Climate Change