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URI awarded grant to conduct research and workshop on the governance and socio-economics of large marine ecosystems

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

NARRAGANSETT, RI -- June 6, 2005 -- The University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center and the College of the Environment and Life Sciences have received $200,000 from International Waters: Learning Exchange and Resource Network to conduct research and convene a workshop on the governance and socio-economic elements of large marine ecosystems.

Large marine ecosystems are regions of ocean space encompassing coastal areas from river basins and estuaries to the seaward boundaries of continental shelves and the outer margins of the major current systems. On a global scale, 64 of these ecosystems produce 95 percent of the world's annual marine fishery biomass yields. Most of the global ocean pollution, overexploitation, and coastal habitat alteration occur within their waters.

The URI team will prepare a handbook and deliver a workshop for 18 senior level officials from large marine ecosystem projects funded by the Global Environment Facility in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe. Participants in the workshop will discuss and refine concepts and tools on large marine ecosystem governance and socio-economics that will lead to sustained implementation after current funding ends. The emphasis will be on the strategies that promise to make ecosystem management a sustained operational reality with dedicated constituencies and long term financing mechanisms in place.

Project leaders are Stephen Olsen, director of the Coastal Resources Center, and Jon Sutinen, URI professor of environmental and natural resource economics. Glenn Ricci from the Coastal Resources Center is the project coordinator and training leader.

Joining the team from the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences are Professors Timothy Hennessey and Lawrence Juda, who will provide expertise on economics and governance in the curriculum development phase of the project and act as instructors during the workshop.

Also collaborating on this project are Kenneth Sherman and Marie-Christine Aquarone of the NOAA Large Marine Ecosystems Program, based at the National Marine Fisheries Service Laboratory in Narragansett.

“The management of human activities in the context of impacts on ecosystems at a range of scales is one of the primary challenges of the 21st century,” said Olsen, “which is why CRC and CELS have focused their creative energies on the successful governance of large marine ecosystems.”

Global Environment Facility, the funding agency, partners with national and international agencies including U.N. agencies to assist developing coastal countries in meeting the ecosystem-related goals agreed upon at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg. They recommend the use of large marine ecosystems as the geographic focus for ecosystem-based strategies to reduce coastal pollution, restore damaged habitats and recover depleted fisheries.

The Coastal Resources Center at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography is dedicated to advancing coastal management worldwide, by implementing coastal management projects in the field and building capacity through education and training. In addition to assisting in the development and implementation of coastal management programs in Rhode Island and the United States, the center is active in countries throughout the world promoting the sustainable use of coastal resources for the benefit of all. Visit the CRC website at http://www.crc.uri.edu/.