The Association of Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean (AMLC) celebrated its 35th Scientific Meeting in the Universidad de Costa Rica at San José, Costa Rica on May 23-27, 2011. With more than 30 institutions involved in marine research, education and resource management, the AMLC aims to encourage the production and exchange of information between researchers and resource managers, increase marine and environmental awareness and promote assistance and collaborative efforts among its members. Representatives from several universities, governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations participated in the conference.
Dr. Kurt Grove, CRA team member, carried out a scoping session with about 35 participants of the annual meeting in regard to what efforts (research/information) are currently needed to better management and conservation strategies in the Caribbean. In general, the group suggested that a cooperative science research network is urgently needed to disseminate important data that is critical for making decisions in management and that transbounds all sectors (private and public) and political interests (national and international). They emphasized that the transfer of knowledge should be a transdisciplinary and transboundary endeavor made by researchers, resource managers and governance at all levels in order to integrate the efforts of all sectors into conserving our local resources. Most participants voiced their need for more vertical and horizontal communications between research laboratories and agencies/organizations, which should also help to influence policy makers when making decisions that affect local communities. Efforts to convey the results of scientific research to resource managers in layman’s terms so that it is understandable and applicable to management was also considered a main concern. One of the most frequent obstacles mentioned by the group was the lack of participation or representation from important organizations/agencies that could make an impact on science policy. An interesting comment that had not been made in previous discussion sessions is the need for resource managers to use locally-obtained data (which may not be available or doesn’t exist), not necessarily regional, and that can be applied to their area. An area of research that was emphasized as a need was the inventory and population status of important coastal species (e.g., land crab Cardisoma).
AMLC members expressed their interest in continuing efforts to exchange research information and data among the marine laboratories in regard to management and conservation of marine resources. A proposal was made to continue discussing topics that involve questions that are relevant for governance and for local or regional issues.
To address the concern about finding information/data pertinent to marine and coastal studies in the Caribbean by way of a web portal, the UPR-SG currently provides a publication database with more than 700 resources (and growing!) that includes reports, thesis, documents, peer-reviewed articles and websites, regarding management and conservation in the Caribbean. We have over 10 different subjects (categories such as climate change, coral reefs, mangroves, sediments, etc.) for you to review!
AMLC holds its Scientific Meetings every other year, of which peer-reviewed Proceedings are published as Supplemental Editions of the International Journal for Tropical Biology (Revista de Biología Tropical) and publish newsletters (in English and Spanish) twice per year. For more information on AMLC’s contributions to the community of marine researchers and resource managers, please visit their website here!
Contributed by: K. Grove (Thanks to those that helped take notes of the session!)
Edited by: J. Seda