20 March 2019
A grant has been awarded to researchers at the University of Exeter to increase the impact of GCRF Blue Communities work. 

The project will consult with international and regional conservation and development organisations about the trade-offs they face when designing marine initiatives in Southeast Asia. Trade-offs occur when a policy or initiative results in some objectives, sectors, stakeholders or wildlife benefiting at the expense of others. By hearing practical experiences of how trade-offs are identified and managed, the team will further develop trade-off analysis tools that provide practical solutions for practitioners in the region.
 
Dr Matt Fortnam, who is leading the project, explained: “Southeast Asian coasts and oceans are used in a lot of different ways – fishing, shipping, tourism and conservation to name a few. The services provided by these benefit people in different ways, from income to relaxation. So, when a new project or policy changes how the marine environment is managed, some people, sectors and sea life will benefit whilst others are likely to lose out – these are examples of trade-offs. If we don’t consider the full range of trade-offs, decisions can have serious unintended consequences for seascapes and people’s lives. We want to develop tools to ensure well-meaning projects don’t accidently push the poorest and most vulnerable into serious harm, while ensuring critical marine ecosystems thrive.”
 
“Some worrying trade-offs can be found in even what seems like a great idea” adds Dr Tomas Chaigneau, a co-investigator on the project. “Take for example the introduction of a ban on small meshed fishing nets. Obviously, this would be good for the sustainability of fish stocks by preventing the catch of small juveniles and species. But those small fish caught can be critical for the subsistence of the poor. What happens to the well-being of vulnerable groups if the supply of small fish declines?”
 
The team will be interviewing marine technical advisors and programme managers at conservation and development organisations working in the region to understand the type of trade-offs they face and how they deal with them. This will be followed up with an event where practitioners and GCRF Blue Communities researchers will develop solutions together.
 
The project is funded by the Global Impact Acceleration Account (GIAA) to deliver and accelerate the impact in developing countries from existing research, like Blue Communities, funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund.

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For further information on the project and to get involved, please contact one of the Blue Communities University of Exeter team:

Dr Matt Fortnam (m.fortnam (at) exeter.ac.uk
Dr Tomas Chaigneau (T.W.B.Chaigneau (at) exeter.ac.uk)
Dr Louisa Evans (Louisa.Evans (at) exeter.ac.uk)