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Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum

Good stewardship principles in marine conservation.

Posted By: Keith Hiscock, Teh Tiong Sa.
Date: Thursday, 26 April 2001, at 9:55 a.m.

In Response To: What are wise practices? (+franšais)(+espa˝ol) (Moderators)


I was very interested in the contribution 'What are wise practices?' (http://csiwisepractices.org/?read=338). To be 'wise' needs knowledge plus experience. At the end of this contribution, I will offer a new source of knowledge.

The sixteen characteristics of 'wise practices' and the reports do not seem to encompass the concept of 'good stewardship' or 'duty-of-care'. The closest characteristic is that 'wise practices should be sustainable'.

We are, after all, merely caretakers on this planet and we should maintain an environment that is fit for other creatures to live in and that will continue to be in a good condition for future human generations. We have a 'duty' because humans have such potential to wreck ecosystems - we are no longer in balance with nature.

It is my contention that, whilst protected areas may be very effective for conservation if properly regulated (http://csiwisepractices.org/?read=331, http://csiwisepractices.org/?read=339), good stewardship principles throughout the marine environment are essential. As scientific information increases, good stewardship can more and more be based on knowledge and a logical objective approach to applying that knowledge.

Good stewardship involves preventing or minimizing the adverse effects of human activities, particularly where 'important' features may be affected. 'Important features' are ones that are critical for commercial, recreational, natural heritage or cultural reasons. In relation to safeguarding our natural heritage, 'important features' include nationally rare or scarce species or biotopes, species or biotopes that are in decline and are unlikely to recover from a particular event if damaged, and habitats on which those important species and biotopes depend. Environmental impact assessments should include a 'Will it matter?' approach based on whether 'important features' will be adversely affected (their 'sensitivity') and how quickly (if at all) they will recover.

I would like to draw attention to a Web site (http://www.marlin.ac.uk) that describes approaches to identifying 'sensitivity' and 'recoverability' in species and biotopes. The approaches have been compiled by scientists from research institutes and the main agencies responsible for marine environmental management and protection in Britain and Ireland but are applicable anywhere in the world. The Web site includes assessments of sensitivity for a growing number of species and biotopes.

Mr. Keith Hiscock, Marine Life Information Network, Marine Biological Association of the U.K, Plymouth, U.K.


Considering the long list of wise practice characteristics, it might be better to make the list more manageable by combining some of them, e.g. long-term benefit and sustainability, also to combine the characteristics relating to the human dimension. Another idea would be to prioritize them.

Mr. Teh Tiong Sa, Nanyang Technological University, National Institute of Education, Singapore.


MODERATOR'S NOTE: Over the past three months, three contributions (in English, French and Spanish) have been posted relating to an assessment of the 170 Forum contributions up to September 2000, (http://csiwisepractices.org/?read=334, http://csiwisepractices.org/?read=338, http://csiwisepractices.org/?read=348). Paper copies of the Forum assessment are still available on request from . Further feedback is welcome, since it is planned to start finalizing the assessment document at the end of June, 2001.

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