Best Practices for Marine Conservation and Community Engagement

This database outlines several key examples of successful marine conservation efforts coupled with public engagement and education opportunities for us to explore and become inspired!

1. The Representative Areas Program

Location: Great Barrier Reef, Australia 

Environment: Ocean Reef Conservation 

Key outreach activity: A Interactive Blue Highway poster to educate the public about the dire need to conserve the Great Barrier Reef in a friendly way  

Image from the GBAMPA Website

In the 1990s, there was a systematic planning undertaking to develop one zoning plan for the entire Great Barrier Reef to designate itself as a Marine Park status which effectively in 2004 set up a series of no-take zones across most of the Great Barrier Reef. This occurred in great lengths of consultation with community members and scientists to establish to plan that minimized the most significant negative impacts on the Reef while protecting many of the livelihoods of the local people.

2. Cerulean Center’s First BioBlitz

Location: Michigan, USA 

Environment: Lake

Key Outreach Activity: Tiered approach to community involvement

Image from INateralist

During Cerulean’s center’s first-ever 48 hours BioBlitz, they involved several key public engagement tactics. They involved two levels of engagment in making this BioBlitz event accessible and engaging to many in the community. However, the Cerulean Center suggests the need for a tiered approach to community engagement in the future. Ideally, the next time the Cerulean Center conducts a Bioblitz, it will use the following structure. 

1). The first tier of engagement involves citizens keen to participate in the BioBlitz will be allowed to participate in a full day of activities by supporting a scientist and documenting species within the park. 

2). The second level of engagement would be a two-hour session for those interested in participating; however, they have less time to participate. 

3). The third tier of engagement includes the opportunity for brief or momentary engagement for those who are not interested in joining a more significant event. In this tier, the public would be informed about the ongoing BioBlitz at a community table and encouraged to participate while they were in the area and document any species observed within the INateralist App.

3. Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council

Location: Thunder Bay, Michigan 

Envrioment: Lake Conservation 

Key Outreach Activity: Project Ship Hunt and Shipwreck Ally

Image from Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Website

The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary does not only just protect its marine life. Instead, the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary has become a world-renowned place for divers to visit and explore the shipwrecks and maritime history in the Great Lakes. This recreational use instills a sense of desire for the divers and the community around Thunder Bay to safeguard this place and protect biodiversity. This success has supported a plethora of marine conservation efforts in Thunder Bay.