Today a new paper co-authored by me and eleven co-authors came out in Frontiers in Marine Science. This is not the most co-authors I’ve had on a paper, but it’s the first time I’ve co-authored with people I’ve never met – who in this case far outnumber co-authors I have met (9 to 2). The way this paper came about is not quite as interesting as the paper, but it seems an unusual success to me, so 3 cheers for intense collaborative efforts across continents, time zones, academic disciplines and other interests. I hope our paper sheds a little light on how to go forward with ocean monitoring that makes the world more livable, longer, in a changing world of complex interests and diverse ways of knowing that inform various interest groups, local and Indigenous communities, scientific study and others.

Title: The importance of connected ocean monitoring knowledge systems and communities

Authors: Brooks A Kaiser, Maia Hoeberechts, Kimberley Maxwell, Laura Eerkes-Medrano, Nathalie Hilmi, Alain Safa, Chris Horbel, S. Kim Juniper, Moninya Roughan, Nicholas Theux Lowen, Katherine Short, Danny Paruru

Journal: Front. Mar. Sci., 14 June 2019

Abstract: Ocean monitoring will improve outcomes if ways of knowing and priorities from a range of interest groups are successfully integrated. Coastal Indigenous communities hold unique knowledge of the ocean gathered through many generations of inter-dependent living with marine ecosystems. Experiences and observations from living within that system have generated ongoing local and traditional ecological knowledge (LEK and TEK) and Indigenous knowledge (IK) upon which localized sustainable management strategies have been based. Consequently, a comprehensive approach to ocean monitoring should connect academic practices (“science”) and local community and Indigenous practices, encompassing “TEK, LEK, and IK.” This paper recommends research approaches and methods for connecting scientists, local communities, and IK holders and their respective knowledge systems, and priorities, to help improve marine ecosystem management. Case studies from Canada and New Zealand (NZ) highlight the emerging recognition of IK systems in natural resource management, policy and economic development. The in-depth case studies from Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) and the new Moana Project, NZ highlight real-world experiences connecting IK with scientific monitoring programs. Trial-tested recommendations for successful collaboration include practices for two-way knowledge sharing between scientists and communities, co-development of funding proposals, project plans and educational resources, mutually agreed installation of monitoring equipment, and ongoing sharing of data and research results. We recommend that future ocean monitoring research be conducted using cross-cultural and/or transdisciplinary approaches. Vast oceans and relatively limited monitoring data coupled with the urgency of a changing climate emphasize the need for all eyes possible providing new data and insights. Community members and ocean monitoring scientists in joint research teams are essential for increasing ocean information using diverse methods compared with previous scientific research. Research partnerships can also ensure impactful outcomes through improved understanding of community needs and priorities.

Link to full paper (open access)

Photo credit:“Eagle feeding cycle” by Macomb Paynes is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0