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This just in folks! The location of the next ISBW – a closely guarded secret that we couldn’t trick or bribe the voting officials to divulge, is….

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More details to follow! Stay tuned to the blog!

Day two of the 11th International Seagrass Biology Workshop opened with Mike Fortes issuing a challenge to seagrass scientists to lead the charge on raising awareness on seagrass habitats in the morning’s plenary. Mike believes that there is still much work to be done on seagrass science and management in the tropics and especially in the South-East Asian region where coastal habitats are highly threatened by pressures of population growth, urbanization and coastal development.

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I caught up with Mike to chat about challenges for seagrass science and conservation in South-East Asia:

Q (Siti): There are obviously a lot of gaps in our knowledge of tropical seagrass ecosystems in the Indo-Pacific. What do you think are the three most pressing issues that need to be addressed as soon as possible?

A (Mike Fortes): The three challenges I have in mind are related and inter-connected and it’s difficult to separate them, but firstly there has to be a solid scientific base (e.g. baseline knowledge) to work with in SE Asia, which is lacking. Secondly, there is a lack of understanding of science and that needs to be understood by managers and stockholders. As scientists we need to be involved in the communication of our work. And thirdly, all this knowledge and understanding needs to be translated into policy. Science needs to form the basis for management and policy decisions.

Q: Do you think a different approach is needed for outreach and communication to raise awareness of seagrass habitats and science communication in the South-East Asian region compared to other regions in the world?

A: In general it’s not that a different approach is needed, but that a serious and affective approach is required. By affective I mean that our outreach efforts have to affect or touch people at a deeper level – what we communicate has to resound with those we are trying to communicate with.

Q: What’s your take on the state of seagrass science in the region and what do you think we should aim for?

A: We need to address the issues at root of the problem. Sometimes the most pressing issues have solutions that are right in front of us but require an approach that is out of the “science toolbox”. For example if there’s discharge affecting water quality and subsequently seagrass in an area, the most direct solution is to first stop the discharge and sometimes this requires us talking to politicians and decision makers first before we apply a solution based on our science and knowledge of seagrass habitats.

Thanks Mike for sharing your thoughts!

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s a bunch of photos:

From the talks:

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Making new friends at tea break:

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And from the workshops:

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Hello from ISBW11 in sunny Sanya!

Prof. Xiaoping Huang and the local organizing committee welcomed us and officially opened the ISBW this morning with welcome addresses from representatives from the South China Sea Institute of Ocenanology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, World Seagrass Association and local representatives.

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The two plenary speakers for day 1 were Fred Short and Massa Nakaoka. Fred gave an overview of the global state of seagrass and what tells us about our oceans, and Massa spoke about the impacts of catastrophic events on seagrass meadows.

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The speakers in session 1 on ecosystem vulnerability and resilience gave a range of interesting talks – a promising start to what looks like a stimulating conference.

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There are some who couldn’t physically be here for the conference but were lucky to have a colleague who agreed to bring a manifestation of themselves to be here in spirit (and photos).

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It’s almost as good as being here!! 🙂

Stay tuned! We have more daily reports from ISBW11

The application deadline for Evamaria Koch Student Travel Grants to attend the 11th International Seagrass Biology Workshop has been extended to 10th September 2014.

On behalf of the World Seagrass Association Inc. and the ISBW11 Organising Committee, a limited number of student grants will be made available to help students attend the ISBW11 in November 2014.

The application is open to all students registered for ISBW11 as well as those who have completed their education recently (defined as having graduated, or obtained a masters or PhD degree on or after 15th April 2014) and who have submitted abstracts for presentation at the ISBW11. Priority will be given to students from developing countries, but students from other countries may also apply. Students may apply irrespective of whether they have already paid ISBW11 fees or not.

In order to apply for a student grant please send an application letter to ISBW2014@163.com by 10th September 2014 quoting your registration number and stating:

  1. why it is important for you to attend ISBW11;
  2. why you need a student grant;
  3. how you are eligible; and
  4. what other funding you already have to contribute to your participation in the meeting.

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