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Marine ecologist offers suggestions for achieving a strong, lasting 'blue economy'
by Staff Writers
Boston MA (SPX) Feb 22, 2017

A "catch share" program in Mexico aids fishermen. Image courtesy Carlos Aguilera and OSU. For a larger version of this image please go here.

Incentive-based solutions offer significant hope for addressing the myriad environmental challenges facing the world's oceans - that's the central message a leading marine ecologist delivered in Boston during a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Jane Lubchenco, a distinguished professor in the Oregon State University College of Science, shared lessons from around the world about ways "to use the ocean without using it up" as nations look to the ocean for new economic opportunities, food security or poverty alleviation.

Elizabeth Cerny-Chipman, a former postdoctoral scholar under Lubchenco who's now a Knauss Fellow at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, co-authored the presentation, titled "Getting Incentives Right for Sustained Blue Growth: Science and Opportunities."

In her presentation, Lubchenco pointed out that achieving the long-term potential of blue growth will require aligning short- and long-term economic incentives to achieve a diverse mix of benefits. Blue growth refers to long-term strategies for supporting sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors as a whole.

"If we harness human ingenuity and recognize that a healthy ocean is essential for long-term prosperity, we can tackle the enormous threats facing the ocean," Lubchenco says, "and we can make a transition from vicious cycles to virtuous cycles."

Lubchenco and her collaborators note that the world's oceans are the main source of protein production for 3 billion people; are directly or indirectly responsible for the employment of more than 200 million people; and contribute $270 billion to the planet's gross domestic product.

"The right incentives can drive behavior that aligns with both desired environmental outcomes and desirable social outcomes," Lubchenco says.

The first step in building increased support for truly sustainable blue growth, she says, is highlighting its potential. That means working with decision-makers to promote win-win solutions with clear short-term environmental and economic benefits. Governments, industry and communities all have important roles to play, Lubchenco notes.

"Another key step is transforming the social norms that drive the behavior of the different actors, particularly in industry," Lubchenco says. "Finally, it will be critical to take a cross-sector approach.

"Some nations, like the Seychelles, Belize and South Africa, are doing integrated, smart planning to deconflict use by different sectors while also growing their economies in ways that value the health of the ocean, which is essential to jobs and food security. They are figuring out how to be smarter about ocean uses, not just to use the ocean more intensively."

Prior to her presentation, Lubchenco gave a related press briefing on how to create the right incentives for sustainable uses of the ocean.

In November 2016, Lubchenco, Cerny-Chipman, OSU graduate student Jessica Reimer and Simon Levin, the distinguished university professor in ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, co-authored a paper on a related topic for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

--SPACE STORY data hg 229 22-DEC-49 GBSI reports encouraging progress toward improved research reproducibility by year 20 GBSI reports encouraging progress toward improved research reproducibility by year 20 quality-checkpoints-improved-research-reproducibility-hg.jpg quality-checkpoints-improved-research-reproducibility-lg.jpg quality-checkpoints-improved-research-reproducibility-bg.jpg quality-checkpoints-improved-research-reproducibility-sm.jpg Quality checkpoints. Image courtesy GBSI. Global Biological Standards Institute
by Staff Writers Washington DC (SPX) Feb 22, 2017 One year after the Global Biological Standards Institute (GBSI) issued its Reproducibility2020 challenge and action plan for the biomedical research community, the organization reports encouraging progress toward the goal to significantly improve the quality of preclinical biological research by year 2020.

"Reproducibility2020 Report: Progress and Priorities," posted on bioRxiv, identifies action and impact that has been achieved by the life science research community and outlines priorities going forward. The report is the first comprehensive review of the steps being taken to improve reproducibility since the issue became more widely known in 2012.

"By far the greatest progress over these few years has been in stakeholders recognizing the severity of the problem and the importance of taking active steps for improvement," said Leonard P. Freedman, PhD, president of GBSI. "Every stakeholder group is now addressing the issues, including journals, NIH, private funders, academicians and industry. That's crucial because there is not one simple fix - it is a community-wide problem and a community-wide effort to achieve solutions."

The report addresses progress in four major components of the research process: study design and data analysis, reagents and reference materials, laboratory protocols, and reporting and review.

Moreover, it identifies the following broad strategies as integral to the continued improvement of reproducibility in biomedical research: 1) drive quality and ensure greater accountability through strengthened journal and funder policies; 2) create high quality online training and proficiency testing and make them widely accessible; 3) engage the research community in establishing community-accepted standards and guidelines in specific scientific areas; and 4) enhance open access to data and methodologies.

Research community stakeholders have responded with innovation and policy. The community is taking more steps to work together and to tackle the complexities of the reproducibility

The report highlights tangible examples of community-led actions from implementing new funding guidelines and accountability to tackling industry-wide research standards and incentives for compliance. The lessons learned from these early efforts will assist all stakeholders seeking to scale up or replicate successful initiatives.

"We are confident that continued transparent, global, multi-stakeholder engagement is the way forward to better, more impactful science," says Freedman. "We are calling on all stakeholders - individuals and organizations alike - to take action to improve reproducibility in the preclinical life sciences by joining an existing effort, replicating successful policies and practices, providing resources to replication efforts and taking on new opportunities."

Actions Going Forward
The report contains specific actions that each stakeholder group can take to enhance reproducibility. In its leadership role, GBSI will:

+ work with journals and funders to encourage policies that increase rigor, accountability and open access to data and methodologies,

+ lead the effort toward improving the validation of reagents - particularly cells and antibodies - and work with the research community to explore other scientific areas (e.g. stem cells and synthetic biology) where a greater emphasis on development of standards and best practices are needed to ensure quality and advance discovery,

+ ensure high quality, accessible online training modules available to both emerging and experienced researchers who are eager to improve their proficiencies in new and evolving best practices; and

+ periodically track and report on community-wide progress toward the 2020 goal.

Freedman introduced the new report at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting during the session, "Rigor and Reproducibility One Year Later: How Has the Biomedical Community Responded?," hosted by GBSI. Freedman was joined by panelists Michael S. Lauer, M.D. of NIH; William G. Kaelin Jr., M.D. of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and Judith Kimble University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"The research culture, particularly at academic institutions, must also seek greater balance between the pressures of career advancement and advancing rigorous research through standards and best practices," said Freedman, noting a major challenge still facing the community.

"Additional leadership and community-wide support will be needed and we believe that the many initiatives described in this report add needed momentum to this emerging culture shift in science.

"The preclinical research community is full of talented, motivated people who care deeply about producing high-quality science. We are optimistic about the potential to improve reproducibility, and look forward to continuing to contribute to the effort."

Research paper

Basking sharks seek out winter sun
Exeter, UK (SPX) Feb 22, 2017
The winter habits of Britain's basking sharks have been revealed for the first time. Scientists from the University of Exeter have discovered some spend their winters off Portugal and North Africa, some head to the Bay of Biscay and others choose a staycation around the UK and Ireland. Little was known about basking sharks' winter behaviour as they spend little time at the surface and are ... read more

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