Mapping Ocean Wealth – Informing a Sustainable Ocean Economy

A school of Yellowstripe Scads in tight formation in the waters of Dampier Strait off the Raja Ampat Islands of Indonesia. Photo © Jeff Yonover
A school of Yellowstripe Scads in the waters of Dampier Strait off the Raja Ampat Islands of Indonesia. Photo © Jeff Yonover

By Mark Spalding, marine scientist, The Nature Conservancy

I’m a somewhat recalcitrant tweeter. I’m not quite sure whether it’s worth the effort, but last month I joined a trending topic, a first for me.

I tweeted: #IAmAScientistBecause I want to explain to people how much we all NEED nature.

It was honest, but I wondered if it was a little trite. What blew me away was that my message received more retweets than I have followers — my first brush with a little social media success.

As a marine scientist, I’m driven by numbers, biology and statistics, but as a concerned citizen I really want my science to come out of the journals and to have an influence — on people, on communities and on nature.

Last year, I got a bit more than 140 characters of attention when I presented new ocean science at the second Economist Ocean Summit. However, my message was the same: we all need nature. And the audience – the private sector, governments, development banks – was crucial to reach.

In plenary, over coffees and in the side meetings the discussion focused heavily on why the coastal and ocean economy depend on nature — for coastal protection, fish production, tourism revenues, water quality, employment, foreign exchange, food supplies and quality of life.

By translating the science of ocean habitats to the production functions that benefit people and coastal economies, we are changing the conversation and finding support for a healthy ocean that the conservation community could not achieve alone.

The theme of my tweet and my Economist Summit talk is informed by a long history of NGO rhetoric. Heady claims that we need nature, that it’s —> Read More