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Connecting the shifting currents of aquatic science and policy

Ormerod, Stephen J. and Ray, G. Carleton 2016. Connecting the shifting currents of aquatic science and policy. Aquatic Conservation-Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 26 (5) , pp. 995-1004. 10.1002/aqc.2708

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Abstract

The interface between science and policy is often contentious and characterized by mutual suspicion, yet is critical to both halves of the divide. The application of science to real-world problems is ultimately one of the greatest markers of scientific achievement, while policy-makers can reduce the risks of failure by drawing on good evidence. The disproportionately large resource value of inland waters and marine systems together make synergies between science and policy particularly pertinent. Aquatic science has shaped major policy or regulatory legislation, with examples such as the US Clean Water Act (1972) and EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) deeply rooted in evidence. Modern policy examples are also emerging that can respond to the need for resilience to global change, the protection of natural capital and the sustainable management of ecosystem services. However, practical applications so far remain rudimentary. There have been extensive uses of aquatic conservation science to evaluate the outcomes from past policy implementation. Examples are the role of the EU Large Combustion Plants Directive (88/609/EEC), EU Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (91/271/EEC) and the US Clean Water Act (1972) in restoring polluted, acidified, and urbanized fresh waters. However, larger-scale and longer-term data are required to reveal such policy effects more fully. Evaluations of policies to address recent problems in marine waters affected by climate change, acidification, or anoxia are far less complete. The authors suggest that aquatic scientists can play a pivotal role in identifying gaps or failings in policy or regulatory practice, and we urge our colleagues in aquatic conservation to recognize this role with conviction. A specific policy need is identified – to recognize more fully the importance of connectivity among land, inland waters, and seas to avoid high environmental costs, to capture conservation benefits, and to build resilience in aquatic ecosystems as, arguably, the world's most important environments.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 1052-7613
Date of Acceptance: 20 July 2016
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 15:24
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/99438

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