SAN FRANCISCO, May 16 (Xinhua) -- An international group of experts is calling for a code of conduct for marine conservation to promote fair, socially responsible decision-making when planning and carrying out actions to protect the ocean.
In a paper published this week in the journal Marine Policy, the group of academics and practitioners from universities, government agencies and nonprofit organizations recommended a Hippocratic Oath for ocean conservation, similar to the pledge physicians take to uphold specific ethical standards when practicing medicine.
The group convened at the International Union for Conservation of Nature's World Conservation Congress, the world's largest recurring conservation event, in Honolulu last year to discuss the need for a marine code of conduct and put together a framework for what such a document would include. The discussion, along with a review of existing conservation policies, is summarized in the new paper.
Part of the problem, the authors said, is that marine conservation is relatively new and it is ramping up quickly to meet global targets to protect 10 percent of the oceans by 2020. Mistakes or negligence can happen under tight deadlines. Additionally, oceans have several unique qualities that make it difficult to navigate conservation work: property rights are not as clearly defined in the sea as on land; jurisdictions are hard to define and rules are hard to enforce; and there are stark differences in opinion over whether to further exploit the ocean's natural resources or protect them.
"The oceans are a busy place these days, with everyone trying to stake their claim with different end goals in mind," said lead author Nathan Bennett, a researcher at the University of Washington (UW), the University of British Columbia and Stanford University. "Dealing with issues around how decisions are made, who is involved and being clear about the rationales for decisions and putting that information on the table in a transparent way are some fundamental challenges to making marine conservation happen in a good way."
"The benefit of developing a code of conduct is that we are taking past mistakes and learning from them," Bennett was quoted as saying in a news release from UW. "We are trying to suggest a way forward and ultimately to increase the success of conservation."