06 August 2018

During the first week of August, the UK partners of Blue Communities met in Plymouth to present research and capacity building progress, share lessons from completed and ongoing activities, identify potential opportunities and discuss future plans.

Chaired by Prof. Mel Austen, Blue Communities Programme Director and Head of Science at Plymouth Marine Laboratory, this highly valuable and full day of talks, workshops and discussion sessions was well attended by Blue Communities participants from Plymouth Marine Laboratory, University of Exeter, Plymouth University, University of Malaya, the International Pole and Line Foundation and Blue Ventures.

Included in the agenda was an invaluable presentation on health risks by Dr Vik Mohan, Medical Director for Blue Ventures and a practicing GP. This was followed by an insightful and extremely useful discussion session on ethics, positionality, justice and cultural sensitivities, led by Dr Samantha Staddon, Lecturer in Environment & Development at Edinburgh University and also a Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Fellow. This enabled the team to share knowledge and experiences of working with such a diverse range of stakeholders, covering the historical, political, social and religious issues that need to be considered when working with researchers and stakeholders from different regions around the world.

Also discussed were the training and capacity building needs for both UK and SE Asian researchers as well as the development of an Early Career Researchers Network, championed by Prof. Lora Fleming, Director of the European Centre for Environment and Human Health and Chair of Oceans, Epidemiology and Human Health at the University of Exeter Medical School, and Dr Sabine Pahl, Associate Professor in Social Psychology at the University of Plymouth.

In addition to regular online meetings, these ‘in-person’ meetings are vital for extended knowledge exchange between projects and organisations. These meetings help ensure that this exciting programme fulfils its vision of supporting well-managed marine ecosystems in SE Asia for the benefit of health, well-being, food security and livelihoods of their coastal communities.   
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