Jerry Schubel who acts as the public outreach co-ordinator of the Census of Marine Life, visited Bergen 18-19 February 2002 to learn more of Mar-Eco and the Bergen institutions involved.
Dr. Schubel is the Public Outreach advisor for the International Research Programme entitled Census of Marine Life (CoML). Schubel is also a short-term advisor for another CoML project, the Gulf of Maine Project.
Dr. Schubel is well qualified for his role as a Public Outreach advisor. In December 2001 he retired as President and Chief Executive Officer at the New England Aquarium. He had been President of the Aquarium for seven years. The Aquarium Board chair praised Dr. Schubel for his vision and leadership during this period. In her remarks to Dr. Schubel she said that the New England Aquarium is one of the most popular Boston cultural attractions with more than one million visitors annually. She underlined the national and international recognised leadership that the aquarium has in terms of exhibit development, educational programming, research and conservation.
Before he became President of the Aquarium, Dr. Schubel was Dean and Director of the State University of New York at Stony Brook's Marine Sciences Research Centre. This centre, which he co-founded in 1974, has become a world-renowned coastal oceanographic institution.
During his visit to Bergen, Dr. Schubel visited the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (IMR), the Bergen Aquarium, the Bergen Museum and the University of Bergen (UiB). At each location, scientists presented their ideas for participation in Census of Marine Life and MAR-ECO.
Dr. Schubel, in turn, presented some information about the CoML Programme. CoML is, in effect, a framework for many smaller, more localised projects. It is expected that there will be around 25-30 such projects, of which, six have begun concrete planning. MAR-ECO is one of these six Projects within the CoML Programme.
The CoML "slogan" is abundance, distribution, and bio-diversity, underlining the key biological concepts of the programme. The key idea of the programme, says Dr. Schubel, is to gather knowledge about the oceans to try to better understand the marine ecosystem and thus be able to better manage marine resources for the future.
During his visit, Dr. Schubel particularly underlined the need for both initiatives (CoML and MAR-ECO) to work together. Both have obtained funding for the planning phases, but need to demonstrate viable, concrete objectives so as to be able to obtain further funding.
In particular, a Public Outreach programme has not yet been clearly defined within CoML. It has been suggested that all the CoML projects pool resources within Public Outreach to a greater or lesser extent. Dr. Schubel also advised that planners think about including assessment measures in their proposals, as being able to quantify impact is useful when seeking funding.
Some key highlights from the two-day meetings were Jo Høyer's idea of having a metaphor or story that would help popularise the scientific efforts. This would include the development of a logo for MAR-ECO.
Stig Sægrov, the director of Bergen Aquarium, presented plans for a dynamic new exhibit at the Aquarium that could easily incorporate both CoML and MAR-ECO material.