Welcome to our new online annual report!
The Center for Ocean Solutions is pleased to welcome you to our new online annual report. We had a rewarding year as we continued our work bridging policy and science to solve major ocean challenges. Our new online annual report provides a snapshot of our key research and policy accomplishments in the areas of genomics, deep seabed mining, fisheries and much more. We hope it generates the same excitement for you that our work has provided us.
A Message from the Science Director
Discovery and Innovation
At the Center for Ocean Solutions, we seek new ways of addressing key problems facing the ocean, including promising technologies that could prove to be game-changers for real-time ocean monitoring.
Our eDNA project is pioneering a genetic sampling technique through collaborative research efforts that have international and national-scale implications. Results of early experiments indicate that eDNA data can identify the same species as visual surveys and could help revolutionize marine wildlife and biodiversity monitoring and management by making species identification much less time consuming and less expensive.
Kelp Forest Array
The KFA is a state-of-the-art underwater, cabled platform helping to monitor and understand local impacts of global climate change in the kelp forest off Hopkins Marine Station. Capturing high-resolution, real-time environmental data (e.g. temperature, salinity, velocity, oxygen, pH, turbidity, chlorophyll), plus video footage, the KFA’s capabilities offer an unparalleled peek into the complex environmental interactions impacting the health of coastal marine ecosystems.
Over the past year, we collaborated on a number of projects that influenced and informed environmental management and policy decision-making at state, national and international levels.
Deep Seabed Mining
In July of 2015, the Center for Ocean Solutions, along with leading experts from around the world, published a policy forum in Science entitled, “Managing mining in the deep seabed.” The publication closely preceded a meeting of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) to determine a regulatory framework for mining the deep-sea floor. The publication received tremendous national and international media coverage and was distributed by ISA staff directly to members of the ISA Secretariat and played an important role in influencing the ISA to include no-mining MPA networks as part of their regulatory framework.
Ocean Tipping Points
In our third year of the Ocean Tipping Points project, a four-year collaboration funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Center and its collaborators shifted to the case study implementation phase, produced several scientific publications, developed communications and outreach materials, and gave scientific presentations in the case study regions and internationally at several symposia and conferences. In the forthcoming final year of the collaboration, the team will develop guidance for the management community on how best to consider tipping points in common decision-making frameworks, such as cumulative impact analyses and environmental impact statements, coral reef management, water quality decisions and fishery management plans.
In 2015, COS’ California Fisheries project secured buy-in from our California Department of Fish and Game and Fish and Game Commission management partners to develop two decision support tools: one to track fisheries management performance metrics and another to increase state capacity to engage fisheries stakeholders. Both tools are being developed and tested as prototypes in 2016 as part of a larger collaborative effort between the academic, agency, philanthropic and NGO communities to provide the best available tools and information to update the Department and Fish and Game Commission’s Master Plan for Fisheries in 2017.
Underpinning the Center for Ocean Solutions’ work is the development of strong future ocean leaders as we work to enhance strong communication, collaboration and problem-solving skills in the next generation of blue planet pioneers. We do this primarily through the Monterey Area Research Institutions’ Network for Education (MARINE), Early Career Fellows program and Internships.
Ocean Policy Course
COS received its first education-related grant from the California Coastal Commission’s Whale Tail Grant Program to support its third biennial Ocean Policy Course. In total, 23 interdisciplinary students took part in this two-week short course in summer 2015, engaging with over 40 experts in ocean science and policy, including Beth Kerttula, Center Fellow and Director for the National Ocean Council and Steve Roady from Earthjustice, among others.
Wicked Marine Problems
"Navigating Wicked Marine Problems,” a spring 2015 short course focused on whale and vessel interactions in the ocean as a case study of the complexity of ocean problems. The first of its kind in the region, this eight-week cross-campus course was co-developed by the Center for Ocean Solutions, the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, and the Naval Postgraduate School, involving 22 interdisciplinary students from five of the seven MARINE campuses.
Some examples of local, state, national and international organizations where COS “Emerging Ocean Leaders” are currently making a difference.
Engagement & Partnerships
Strong partnerships and stakeholder engagement are key to developing sustainable solutions to ocean challenges. In 2015, COS focused on ways to bridge science and policy through innovative projects that highlighted communication and the power of partnerships.
Science Partnerships Enabling Rapid Response
Our yearlong Science Partnerships Enabling Rapid Response (SPERR) project, in collaboration with Stanford ChangeLabs and funded by the Packard Foundation, identified an innovative solution: the Science Action Network (SAN). The SAN uniquely addresses the challenge of scientific collaboration during crises by linking academic and professional scientists to regional government planning and response bodies in order to coordinate and streamline scientific input for decision-making.
A Time for Sea Change
In the weeks surrounding the UN Climate Talks (COP21), COS produced two videos—A Time for Sea Change, and Solutions for Sea Change—highlighting the relationship between climate change and the ocean. In the videos, COS partner institutions experts, including Jim Barry (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute), Larry Crowder (Center for Ocean Solutions), Rob Dunbar (Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment), Stephen Palumbi (Hopkins Marine Station), and Margaret Spring (Monterey Bay Aquarium) explain why the oceans need to be part of any conversation about climate change and what we can do to work toward solutions.
Solutions for Sea Change
Incorporating Natural Capital into Coastal Adaptation Planning
11. The INCCAP project is working to protect California’s natural coastal habitats and vulnerable human infrastructure from the impacts of climate change. In 2015, COS and project partners (the Natural Capital Project and Stanford Law School) were awarded two years of funding by the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment to co-develop an online prioritization tool with California state-lev¬el coastal agency staff that will identify sites where coastal habitats can best provide protection from coastal hazards, as well as highlight policy pathways for implementing nature-based strategies.
Over the past six years, the Center for Ocean Solutions has built a broad network of collaborators and has been engaged in a wide variety of research to implement solutions. Last year’s results reflect the Center’s ongoing commitment to our mission while reducing costs through an emphasis on strengthening relationships, tightening our budget, and building on past successes to focus our scope.
In 2015, we increased our external funding, streamlined operations and decreased calendar spending by 38%, or $1.8 million as compared to 2013. Our ratio of sponsored projects increased by 2% and our ratio of core spending decreased by 9% (compared to total spending). As a result, our total core spending decreased by $1.6 million (rounded up) from 2013 to 2015.