Statement from SCBNA president Carlos Carroll on the US elections

SCBNA, the North American affiliate of the Society for Conservation Biology, is a community of more than 3,000 conservation scientists and practitioners who are deeply committed to advancing the science and practice of conserving the Earth’s biological diversity. The results of the recent US elections will bring major changes in US federal government policies that affect biodiversity conservation. SCBNA is committed to remaining a strong voice for promoting application of rigorous science to conservation management and policy. Conservation is not inherently a partisan activity. Since SCB’s founding in 1985, the records of all US administrations have shown a mix of advances and retreats in conservation policy and practice. SCBNA will continue to constructively partner with and support government initiatives where doing so advances conservation science and practice, but will also work to inform our members and the public where we see policies that do not appropriately incorporate conservation science or negatively affect biodiversity. We will particularly focus on three priority policy areas where we see a strategic role for SCBNA: defense of scientific integrity in government decision-making, conservation of endangered species, and landscape planning for climate change adaptation. If you are interested in learning more about SCBNA’s policy work, email SCBNA president Carlos Carroll (carlos (at) klamathconservation (dot) org).

SCBNA actively engages with representatives of federal and state agencies, NGOs, and other professional societies to work towards increasing diversity and inclusion in the field of conservation science. We will remain committed to this important work regardless of the political administration. If you are interested in participating in this work please email SCBNA president-elect Jessa Madosky (jmadosky (at) ut (dot) edu) for information about the SCBNA Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee. SCBNA will continue to strongly oppose discrimination against conservation professionals based on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability or religion.

NACCB2016 Plenary Talks Now Online!

Videos of the plenary talks from NACCB2016 are now on the NACCB YouTube channel here.

Barbara Taylor’s work to save the vaquita from extinction to be honored at NACCB

Learn about vaquita conservation efforts on 60 Minutes on Sunday, May 22, 2016.

The Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) annually awards the Edward T. LaRoe III Memorial Award to an individual who has been a leader in translating principles of conservation biology into real-world conservation. Preference is given to employees of government agencies or individuals who have spent at least part of their career in public service. Dr. LaRoe was chief scientist for NOAA’s coastal zone management program, a founder and former director of the Coastal Society, and a principal author of the National Wetland Classification system. Past recipients have included leaders in a wide range of disciplines.

This year, the award will be given at the North American Congress of Conservation Biology (NACCB; www.scbnacongress.org ) held in Madison, Wisconsin from July 17 to July 20, 2016. The award will be given to Dr. Barbara Taylor of NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center to recognize her outstanding career achievements in translating conservation science into real-world conservation efforts, most recently in the case of vaquita conservation.

The vaquita (Phocoena sinus), or Gulf of California harbor porpoise, is one of the rarest and most endangered marine mammals in the world.  The vaquita, which is Spanish for “little cow”, is especially vulnerable to drowning in gillnet fishing nets. Recent surveys document that only around 60 vaquitas remain. Results of the acoustic monitoring between 2011-2015 showed an 80% decline over that period. Results from the acoustic monitoring prompted the emergency 2-year ban of gillnets that began on May 10, 2015. Although almost no gillnets were seen on the survey between October and early December, 42 illegal totoaba gillnets were recently removed by the Sea Shepherd in collaboration with the Mexican Navy. 3 vaquitas died in March from gillnet entanglement.

At 8 pm on Sunday, May 22, 2016, the program 60 Minutes will air a segment on vaquita. The crew came to San Felipe and interviewed Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho and Barbara Taylor during the 2015 vaquita survey. They also filmed the presentation of the SMM Conservation Merit Prize and interviewed Mexico’s Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources Rafael Pacchiano afterwards in San Francisco. Most importantly, they filmed vaquita themselves. The program will be available after May 22 on http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/preview-the-last-vaquitas/

SCB, led by its Marine, Latin America and Caribbean, and Asia sections, has worked for several years to advance vaquita conservation. More information can be found on SCB’s vaquitawebpage, and via the following policy statements from 2015 and2012.

See also this video, and articles in the LA Times, and CNN.