SeaWeb's Ecosystem-based Management Communications Project
SeaWeb’s Ecosystem-based Management (EBM) Communications Project offers communications tools and messaging strategies to help supporters and managers communicate accurately and efficiently the current challenges in ocean management and the specific ways in which ecosystem-based management can overcome them.
The Communications Guide, "Talking About a Sea Change: A Guide to Communicating About Ecosystem-based Management" and the accompanying Research Brief were created to be core strategic pieces for SeaWeb's EBM communications work, based on opinion research carried out between 2006-2008 in collaboration with the Ocean Conservancy and Edge Research. The Guide is a tool to help supporters reach out to stakeholder groups and engage them in productive conversations about the benefits of ecosystem-based management. Such conversations can allow stakeholders to effectively join in and advance the dialogue about how best to protect, maintain and benefit from the multitude of ocean resources humans rely on every day.
The research underlying our Communications Guide consisted of in-depth stakeholder interviews and focus groups aimed at understanding the rational and emotional context for framing marine EBM and developing compelling arguments for promoting the concept. Interviewees comprised ecosystem-based management stakeholders including representatives from the scientific community, federal and state agencies, ocean industries (such as fishing, shipping and the energy sector), coastal residents and recreational fishermen. The methodology for this research is summarized in the Research Brief.
In the 40-page Communications Guide, we outline a communication strategy for marine EBM, and distill key background information for nine different stakeholder groups, suggesting messages that resonate with each group. These messages are aimed at motivating ongoing participation of these stakeholders in an ideological and policy-level transition from sector-by-sector management to marine ecosystem-based management.
The nine specific stakeholder groups addressed in the messaging guide include: commercial fishers; aquaculturists and shellfish farmers; alternative energy startups; port authorities and harbor masters; coastal residents; coastal planners; federal agency representatives; coastal state agency representatives; and fisheries managers. We also include a worksheet for message development at the end of the guide, and conclude with a note on communicating about EBM with elected officials.
To request a .pdf copy of Talking About a Sea Change and its accompanying Research Brief, please contact SeaWeb.
Trade-Off! is a board game that lets you play the role of different coastal stakeholders—from natural resource managers, commercial fishers, scientists, developers to elected officials and others—who negotiate uses and activities in a coastal community. During this process, a coastal management plan takes shape and the stakeholders gain an understanding of the compatibility and potential conflicts of multiple-use objectives.
The goals of the game are to:
- Deepen understanding of the broader concepts of multi-stakeholder negotiations;
- Gain insight into the goals and perspectives of various stakeholders participating in negotiations in ocean zoning/ marine spatial planning; and
- Become familiar with the framework of marine and coastal spatial planning and the implications of good (and poor) decision-making.
(From left) Chris Parsons, Assistant Professor at the Department of Environmental Policy and Social Sciences at George Mason University, Dann Sklarew, Associate Professor of Biocomplexity and Ecology at George Mason University and others play Trade-Off! at the International Marine Conservation Congress in May 2009.
With a game board illustrating a stretch of temperate coast with a variety of habitats — open ocean, rocky coastline, sandy beaches, wetlands, seagrass meadows and sloping uplands—and players taking on the roles of coastal stakeholders in the financial, social and environmental sectors of a community, the game simulates a multi-stakeholder planning process and encourages the participants to negotiate and consider environmentally and economically sustainable development approaches in their plan.
Trade-Off! is intended for use as "social preparation." It can stimulate group discussion and learning in preparation for informational sessions on marine spatial planning and ecosystem-based management, coastal sustainable development workshops, and multi-stakeholder dialogues. It can also be used in educational settings in which the audience is interested in learning about these concepts through a fun, interactive visual tool.
Trade-Off! was co-developed in the fall of 2008 by SeaWeb for its Ecosystem-based Management Communications Project, then led by Dr. Kathleen Reaugh and now led by Dr. Daria Siciliano, and the Integration and Application Network (IAN), led by Dr. William Dennison at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. The developers have completed a beta version of the game and played it in a variety of settings with several user groups and audiences. In the near future, SeaWeb and IAN intend to further develop and distribute the game.
If you are interested in learning more about this game, and ways to engage your audience in the concepts of marine spatial planning and ecosystem-based management, contact SeaWeb.