The 22nd International Conference of The Coastal Society, June 13–16, 2010 in Wilmington, North Carolina, attracted 270 participants to focus on issues impacting coastal environments. The ironic timing of the conference as an oil-based ecological catastrophe unfolds in the Gulf of Mexico created a somber reminder of coastal vulnerabilities. Participants shared strategies to work on all scales, from international to local, to cherish and manage our shores, engage whole communities in their care and assume a precautionary approach to risks and hazards.
As a graduate student of the School of Marine Affairs at the University of Washington, this was my first TCS conference. I presented my thesis research as part of a panel addressing Marine Conservation—Sociopolitical Adaptation. Other panel members addressed management dynamics in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and non-governmental organizational work for marine conservation at multiple international sites.
Stakeholder engagement in establishing regulations to protect endangered southern resident killer whales in the Salish Sea was my presentation topic. Southern resident killer whales return every spring to transboundary waters on the western-most boundary between Canada and the United States and are listed as endangered in both countries. Stakeholders in this case study include scientists, conservationists, whale watching professionals, fishermen and communities on both sides of the border.
Approximately 25 conference participants attended and contributed to a lively exchange with the panel. The discussion affirmed the importance of engaging stakeholders in all phases of policy development, implementation and adjustments when addressing issues that link ecological and social dynamics.
This project was supported, in part, by funding from the Center’s Program Enhancement Grant, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Government of Canada.
Barbara Lyon Bennett will complete her graduate degree in marine policy Fall 2010 from the School of Marine Affairs at the University of Washington. She will focus her future work on stakeholder engagement in heavily used coastal areas to foster marine stewardship. Barbara was a summer 2009 Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellow with the Center.