Photo of Old Portsmouth as part of the SMMR project

The SMMR Diverse Marine Values team are showcasing a range of research methods at this year’s SMMR Annual Conference in Bristol, 14-16 May 2024.

14 May 2024

2 minutes

A new exhibition which showcases a more sustainable future for the UK’s marine environment has opened yesterday in Bristol. Echoes of the Shore, has been specially curated by researchers from the University of Portsmouth and is the culmination of three year’s research involving partners across 12 universities and marine organisations. It is free to attend and open from 14-16th May at the MShed Museum Studio 2, Bristol. 

Coastal communities are facing increased pressures from climate change, threats to marine wildlife, pollution and flooding. The UK marine economy is worth £48 billion, and policy makers need to be better informed about how they can manage this fragile environment and the economies that are dependent upon it, in a sustainable way that aims to benefit everyone. 

With this in mind,  the Diverse Marine Values project has been exploring the many values people hold for the sea and cost, including social, cultural and aesthetic values. Traditionally, the values considered in the way the marine environment is managed fail to reflect the full range of values marine spaces have for coastal communities. To ensure a wide range of environmental sites were studied, the research has taken place in Portsmouth, Chepstow and the Shetland Islands over the last three years. 

The Diverse Marine Values project is seen as unique because it uses innovative creative research methods to get a broader range of opinions and values. This includes photography, filmmaking, creative writing, digital stories and theatre.

There has been a particular focus on marginalised groups, who rarely engage but have important views.  

Professor Steve Fletcher, from the University of Portsmouth is leading the project, he said: “UK coastal areas are at the forefront of climate change, and disproportionately affected compared to inland communities.  

“The climate crisis has profound effects on the ocean, from rising water temperatures to changes in ocean chemistry to sea-level rise and increased storminess, which directly impact our local waters. Urgent action is needed to reverse these devastating changes and restore the health of our ocean. The Diverse Marine Values project engages with local communities to help them influence and protect this most important local resource.”

This exhibition highlights the importance of listening to coastal communities and understanding their values to inform marine management

Victoria Leslie, Research Fellow, Sustainable Management of Marine Resouces programme (SMMR)

Victoria Leslie, from the University of Portsmouth who curated the exhibition, said: “This exhibition highlights the importance of listening to coastal communities and understanding their values to inform marine management, as well as drawing attention to the pivotal role of qualitative and arts-based research methods to contribute to the future direction of transdisciplinary marine research and management.”

The content of this immersive exhibition is a fascinating collection of these research approaches, processes and findings, and their inherent characteristics which make them well-suited for marine management.  

The Diverse Marine Values researchers will offer a guided tour of the exhibition showcasing the full range of arts-based research methods used to engage local communities in eliciting lesser-heard voices in Portsmouth, Chepstow and the Shetland Islands. There will be the opportunity to meet the researchers and learn more about their experiences and shared lessons.

The exhibition is open to the public between 14-16 May 2024, at the MShed Museum Studio 2.


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