May 8: Public Forum to Highlight Science and Society from Japan to Sarasota Bay

Sarasota Bay will take the international spotlight during a May 8 public forum on science and society led by Japanese researchers and scientists at Mote Marine Laboratory.

Sarasota Bay will take the international spotlight during a May 8 public forum led by Japanese researchers and scientists at Mote Marine Laboratory, who will discuss how local research and restoration efforts in the Bay are part of a global study on science and society.

(Scroll to bottom for details about attending.)

This study, titled “Formation of Local Environmental Knowledge Systems for Creation and Sustainable Governance of New Commons,” is being led by Japan’s Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) and it examines how grassroots groups, researchers working in the same area, policymakers and others can blend traditional and scientific knowledge and techniques to restore, conserve and sustainably utilize natural resources.

The public forum, which is free to visitors (pre-registration required) and takes place from 2:30 – 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 8, in Mote’s Immersion Cinema, will feature discussions by Japanese study leaders from RIHN, Mote leaders and others from the international community who will discuss how new paradigms for environmental restoration and sustainable use of natural resources are being formed locally and around the world, and how they’re leading to tangible conservation benefits. Discussion will highlight examples in Japan and Spain, along with Sarasota Bay and the historic fishing community of Cortez.

Sarasota Bay is among 11 case-study sites in the worldwide RIHN project. Locally, RIHN has been studying the knowledge transfer taking place between residents, scientists and community leaders as part of a scallop restoration effort in Sarasota Bay, which includes Mote, Sarasota Bay Watch, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program and many volunteer “citizen scientists.”

“During the study, I have been extremely impressed with the dedication of our local grassroots community to restoring scallops, a keystone species in Sarasota Bay,” said Dr. Michael Crosby, Mote’s Senior Vice President for Research, who will become the Lab’s President and CEO on May 16.

The basic idea behind the global RIHN project is a new paradigm concept that Crosby developed and began advocating for nearly two decades ago. According to his theory, bringing all parties together to work on common environmental problems will lead to more sustainable use of our limited natural resources.

“Two-way dialogue between scientists and local communities is vital for preserving natural resources and uncovering new knowledge that benefits all,” Crosby said. “This kind of exchange has been an integral part of Mote research, past and present.”

This approach has made Mote an ideal participant in the global RIHN study, according to study leader Prof. Tetsu Sato.

“We have been hunting for interesting examples of partnerships between scientists and the community, and we’ve identified that some researchers are closely tied with the community — we call them ‘residential researchers,’” Sato said. “Institutions like Mote are ideal to transfer science to the community and find rich local knowledge, for bilateral transfer.”

A longtime participant in that knowledge exchange is Ed Chiles, owner and CEO of the Chiles Group operating the Sandbar, BeachHouse and Mar Vista restaurants, and board member with Sarasota Bay Watch. Chiles will share his insights about sustaining Sarasota Bay and historic fisheries of Cortez by participating in a panel at the forum.

“I am so pleased to see a large group of such learned and multidisciplinary experts coming together for this forum,” Chiles said. “I think Sarasota Bay is such a unique environment, and as we say in Sarasota Bay Watch, a healthy Bay is everybody’s business. That speaks to who we are as a people – to our values. It’s also important to recognize that our area has important heritage seafoods, like mullet and botarga, that have the potential for branding our area and showing what natural resources we care about and want to preserve.”

Details for public and media:

  • Public: The free public forum takes place from 2:30 - 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 8. RSVP is required to attend and seating is limited on a first-come, first-served basis. Please contact Vicki Wiese at vicki@mote.org or 941-388-4441, ext. 305
  • Media:  Interviews with project leaders and panelists will be available prior to the forum at 2 p.m. on May 8. RSVP required. Please contact Hayley Rutger at 941-374-0081 or hrutger@mote.org.
  • Location for all activities is the Immersion Cinema at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway in Sarasota.

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