Veronica Relano-Ecija is interested in marine conservation, connectivity and the socio-ecological issues resulting from the mismanagement of marine resources. One important component of her research is to understand how to better communicate conservation actions to a broader audience to achieve change on the ground. Her project “SOS – Somos OceanoS (ocean stories for conservation)” was recently endorsed by the UN Ocean Decade. It will explore the needs of people living in and around ‘paper MPAs’. SOS intends to raise local voices and find ways to start a conversation for equitable management and conservation of marine resources. The project also aims to raise awareness among stakeholders that climate change is real and that inaction will incur substantial ecological and social costs.Veronica also collaborates with the NGO Water Science Policy, and as part of her PhD degree contributes her skills to advance the work of the Sea Around Us, an initiative led by Dr. Daniel Pauly.
Areas of Interest: marine conservation, coastal communities’ engagement, co-management, science communication, marine governance
Primary Recipient Awards
The Wall Catalyst Student Fellow cohort will first come together to engage in the online, interdisciplinary Facing Human Wrongs course and subsequently work together on a number of public-facing projects.
The course content touches upon systemic, historical and ongoing violence, unsustainability, our complicities in social and ecological harm, and our tendency to address complex problems, such as biodiversity loss, food insecurity, economic and political crises, and the potential for social and environmental collapse, with simplistic solutions. The course requires students to be willing to be uncomfortable and to have their perspective challenged.
Socio-ecological perspectives of National Park of Isla de Espiritu Santo
The main goal of this project is to raise awareness of the ecological, social, and economic values of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) and of the challenges that communities and ecosystems experience when MPAs are not properly managed. This project will focus on the Island of Espiritu Santo, a National Park in the Gulf of California, Mexico. This MPA preserves the largest body of water in the Gulf of California and is part of the 90 islands of the Gulf containing unique ecosystems, vulnerable habitats and a considerable number of marine species. The lack of regulation and control over tourism and fishing, including permits, and non-traditional and harmful practices, are putting the population’s livelihoods, food security and environmental resources at risk. The revision of the management plan of the National Park of Isla de Espiritu Santo will occur in 2023-24. This project will demonstrate how human-environment interactions can be improved in the MPA to allow for a more inclusive management plan, which will ultimately lead to more effective, sustainable governance. This will be done using accessible science communication, promoting local participation, and providing spaces for reconciliation and capacity development.
Co-Principal Investigator Awards
Project: Climate Stories
Communicating the experiences and knowledge acquired at COP27 using several forms of multimedia (videos, photos, audio and written storytelling) to reach to the highest number of people possible, and move beyond academic spaces. The project also includes a mural depicting the science and dangers of sea level rise, created in collaboration with First Nations and local artists, to be permanently displayed AMS Student NEST and the Institute for Oceans and Fisheries (IOF). Climate Stories is an initiative of SOS Somos OceanoS (We Are Oceans) endorsed UN Ocean Decade Project and led by 2022 Catalyst Fellow, Veronica Relano.