Heaven knows it's easy to feed the fires of controversy when we don't agree about the ocean's problems. Don't agree exactly what they are, what caused them, and, most emphatically, on what to do about them. It can help to start with stakeholders.
The hard work of getting stakeholders together is not not always recognized. Ocean Frontiers makes films to showcase such successes. My favorite example, since I'm from the Boston area, was how folks came to agreement about Massachusetts Bay. The problem was clear enough: ships and fishing boats coming into port were striking endangered North Atlantic right whales.
Stakeholders at the table had to include the fishing and shipping communities; their stake in the game was their livelihood. Scientists provided many observations of the whales' migration and foraging paths. (They did not include an artist until the lovely painting by 13-year old Annie Williams went on the film's DVD cover.)
The results: they moved the shipping lanes*. It's a great example of how getting all the stakeholders to the table can get things done.
But what about those of us who are not stakeholders? Since we're meeting on this blog about oceans, you're at least interested. We're watching. We're bystanders.
Even bystanders, though, can have different biases and personal connections to the ocean. Some bystander positions might be:
Position Bias Action
Neutral bystander none none
Reporters assumed to check facts reports
Polarized media obvious biases reports to selected audience
Advocates call for change highlight; protest>change
Artists personal experiences create works
Do any of these positions reflect where you are today? Where you've been? Where you're headed? My own have shifted from neutral to artist and, now, an advocate. Feel free to join in with your comments.
And maybe, now that you think about it, it's only a matter of time until you consider yourself a stakeholder.