Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies (PWIAS) did it again! The International Research Colloquium convened Monday, 27 April 2015, was again a wonderful opportunity to rub shoulders with project leaders and international roundtable organisers of successful events past.

Overlooking the sea and the mountains the premises at PWIAS at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, offer a most conducive framework to learn about research results in a broad range of fields of advanced inquiry.

The morning was taken up by very interesting health related accounts of research and practice. Areas addressed were eye movements and awareness, exploration of pathways to mitigate Alzheimer disease, men's health as a public health issue, music as therapy and HIV exposed but uninfected infants in South Africa.

In the environment session in the early afternoon, U. Rashid Sumaila and Cornelia E Nauen reported on the international roundtable organised about a year ago under the title "Spaceship Earth - Meeting the Challenges for Living on the Blue Planet under Siege".

The talk gave a flavour of the innovative format of the roundtable and acknowledged the great contributions of everybody.

The participants deliberately invited for their diverse professional and cultural background had first taken stock of what is already known. They had then identified key "levers" which they could act on to turn the ocean and its fisheries from decline into recovery. 

Learning journeys to meet passionate people in the sciences, arts, social work, communication and other areas - on campus and in town - had opened new vistas on "old problems". New narratives to provide context to "dry" stats and connect to people's lives are needed to complement the rich scientific literature.

The core of the talk shared what fellow travellers have done since the roundtable to keep its enthusiasm and energy alive and act on what we know. This is a selection of activities:

  • Rashid Sumaila's research on subsidies to the fishing industry supported the work of the Global Ocean Commission of political and business leaders in developing its eight recommendations for recovery.
  • Participant Paolo Dini at the London School of Economics has further investigated how community currencies can underpin non-capitalist markets. The theoretical work is being complemented by empirical study e.g. of SARDEX (used by thousands of companies in Sardinia, Italy).
  • Participant Aylin Ulman, how doing her PhD research in Italy, produced advisories for responsible behaviour in relation to the ocean for different user groups. They are currently being illustrated.
  • Rashid Sumaila is using the approaches of the roundtable in coordinating work of the collaborative project "Oceans Canada", particularly in connecting with First Nations groups.
  • Cornelia Nauen is coordinating editors and contributors to the book about the roundtable. Contributors are both participants and some of those who would have liked to participate but could not.

The Q&A session showed the interest of the colloquium participants and revealed how many of the issues discussed are connected at some level. The breaks and socials allowed to continue the inspiring exchange. The slides are available here.

The next few days after the colloquium will be put to good use for working on the book and on continued collaboration between the leading fisheries research groups at UBC under Daniel Pauly and Rashid Sumaila and Mundus maris.

Pictures by Stella Williams. Click here for more info on PWIAS.