March 11, 2014

"Forgotten Reefs, Forgotten People: How Conservation in Micronesia May Be Key to Sustainable Oceans"

A conversation with

Prof. Nicole Crane
Department of Biology, Cabrillo College and Senior Conservation Scientist, Oceanic Society

March 11, 2014
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Nicole Crane will focus on a unique approach to conservation and management in the Ulithi Atoll in the remote outer islands of Micronesia. As part of a diverse team of marine biologists, Crane works with communities to activate them to implement needed changes by sharing the ecological knowledge the team is acquiring from the reefs, and by listening to what the communities have to say about their reef resources, the history of declines, and traditional management practices. The research team is helping to revive traditional management and help people understand the nature of the declines and what are some likely causative factors.

This is a story of empowering communities to sustainably manage their reef ecosystems. These communities autonomously govern more than 100,000 square miles of the western Pacific Ocean in one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth—offering an unprecedented conservation opportunity. The communities have successfully managed their ocean resources for millennia, often with larger human populations than exist today. What happened? The story starts with listening to the communities' stories first. It is a journey through a history of why fisheries declined, why management was forgotten, and how the communities themselves are reviving them. Starting with fishing practices, the team reaches into the very fabric that holds (and brings) these communities together and from which their cultural foundations were built. They are talking, planning, and implementing. Chiefs that have long been silent are asking their people and their councils to take action to once again manage a resource that is central to their culture, their livelihoods, and their very existence. And it is working.

Crane spoke at a Cafe Sci event in January 2012 on "Clipperton Atoll and the Mozambique Channel: Exploration in Search of 'Pristine' Coral Reefs."

About the Speaker

Nicole Crane BSc, MSc, MEd. is a faculty member in the Department of Biology at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California; she is also a senior conservation scientist at the Oceanic Society. She is the co-director of the Oceanic Society’s reef monitoring programs, and project leader for the Ulithi Marine Conservation Project. Crane has more than 20 years of experience developing and implementing reef monitoring programs, and working with communities to address marine management and conservation issues. She is dedicated to linking rigorous science with cultural knowledge and community leadership in conservation. She has been a lead researcher and Natural History Expedition trip leader with the Oceanic Society Since 1988. Crane is also very involved with science education, and has established both national and regional marine science and technology education programs in the United States. She was the founder and principal investigator of the National Science Foundation Center for Excellence in Marine Advanced Technology Education, and Camp SEA Lab.