Creating a more sustainable future for the UK’s marine environment is the key aim of a new project launched today at the University of Portsmouth.
It will investigate how to better protect marine ecosystems, while safeguarding the UK’s sea, river and coastal economies. Researchers at the University of Portsmouth have been given a share of a £9.2 million grant from UK Research and Innovation to undertake the crucial work.
Coastal communities are facing increased pressures from climate change, threats to marine wildlife, pollution and flooding. With the UK marine economy worth £48 billion, the new research project will give policy makers the support and information they need to manage this fragile environment and the economies that are dependent upon it, in a sustainable way that aims to benefit everyone.
The current process doesn’t really consider a broad range of opinions and viewpoints – known as ‘diverse values’.
The launch event at the University of Portsmouth will bring together all the partners involved in the project. To ensure a wide range of environmental sites are studied, the research will take place in Portsmouth, Newhaven, the Upper Severn Estuary and the Shetland Islands. The project will run for three years.
The project is seen as unique because it uses innovative creative research methods to get a broader range of opinions and values. For the first time in the UK, digital storytelling and forum theatre will be used to uncover the values held by coastal communities. There will be a particular focus on marginalised groups, who rarely engage but have important views. Partners will receive training in these specialist research methods while in Portsmouth this week.
What makes this different is it will be the first time that creative methods, such as digital storytelling, will be used to tackle key issues in Portsmouth and other coastal communities.
Professor Steve Fletcher from the University of Portsmouth’s Revolution Plastics initiative is leading the project. He says: “This innovative research is part of a wider programme to generate a change in the way the marine environment is managed in the UK. The current process doesn’t really consider a broad range of opinions and viewpoints – known as ‘diverse values’. I’m delighted to be welcoming the research team to Portsmouth. What makes this different is it will be the first time that creative methods, such as digital storytelling, will be used to tackle key issues in Portsmouth and other coastal communities.”
Professor Fletcher hopes to tackle the challenge of marine resource problems including plastic pollution, sustainable fisheries, habitat restoration. Looking forward to the launch, he said: “Our project ‘kick off’ event this week will be a great opportunity for the research team to set out a framework. We’re bringing together scientists, policymakers and practitioners from outside and within the marine community to provide the building blocks needed to develop a strong community to support sustainable UK seas.”