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New Roles for Aquariums in Conservation

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Most of today's aquariums include aquatic conservation in their mission statement. Yet the conservation effectiveness of aquariums remains limited. The public possesses a minimal ecological understanding of aquatic biodiversity—of the variety of aquatic species and habitats. Most importantly, the public lacks concern about the health of aquatic systems. What can aquariums do? We must make conservation a key message in all aquarium programs. We must appeal to the public's fundamental values, revealing human dependence and impact upon aquatic life in a manner that emotionally connects them to the world under water. We must inspire long-lasting individual and collective behavioral change. We must expand our community presence; this presence enables us to bring together multiple stakeholders for consensus-building discussions of key aquatic issues, and to catalyze community participation in monitoring, habitat restoration, and clean up. We must create new partners for collaboration, including businesses, resource practitioners, and other respected community members. We must also expand policy involvement. Finally, we must actively apply new technologies in our exhibits and programs—technologies that help connect the visitor to the animals and to each other. Ultimately, we must create such a concern for aquatic biodiversity that people consider it priceless.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2001

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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