SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
March 19, 2015
S-258 Students Tackle Tricky Ocean Policy Challenges
Before they set sail from New Zealand next week, class S-258 showed us that they’re not only ready for an unforgettable voyage: They’re also well on their way to thinking like professional ocean policymakers.
Since arriving in Woods Hole about six weeks ago to start the SEA Semester: Oceans & Climate program, the 24 undergraduates have stayed busy building up context for the new landscapes they’ll soon face. This program exposes students to the role of the ocean in global climate change and encourages them to investigate pathways to a more sustainable future through science and policy.
That first meant becoming experts on some of the prickliest ecological problems facing Oceania’s waters and port cities—from coral reef damage in French Polynesia to freshwater scarcity in Samoa; from fisheries threats in New Zealand to rising sea level impacts on communities in Kiribati.
As was clear in our campus lecture hall on Wednesday, this crew shares a passion for understanding—and slowing—undesirable environmental changes. Representing 17 different institutions in the United States and abroad, the students worked as groups to present key challenges, discuss what’s working and not working well on the global policy scene, and recommend new solutions.
One common theme: Current international policies about the environment and climate change are often vague or lack teeth, and there’s a need to strengthen regulations to shield marine areas for the long haul.
Starting March 25, be sure to track S-258’s adventures aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans as they navigate the remote open ocean from Christchurch to Tahiti over the next six weeks.