Living our mission
We generally explain our scheme for conservation as a cross-section of an onion, with its concentric circles.
Across this scheme, our team paints a very broad canvas intellectually and programmatically, from fundamental biology and protected area planning to fisheries management and United Nations policy.
- Seahorses lie at the centre of our target, inspiring us with great determination to secure and recover their wild populations.
- Seahorses can only thrive if they have healthy marine ecosystems, which involves managing and protecting great areas of habitat in most coastal oceans.
- Ecosystems will be healthier if people associated with the ocean, like fishers and coastal developers, make good choices.
- Stakeholders and dependent people have more flexibility in their decisions if their families and neighbourhoods are faring well.
- Human communities do better when supported by economic opportunity, social stability and good governance.
- That then brings us to government, with the need for good regulations in local government… and thoughtful framework policies for sustainability at the national level.
- In today’s world, global agreements must be informed by – and support – good environmental practices nationally and locally.
- At the outermost level, outreach and engagement are vital in promoting human self-discipline and commitment with conservation.
Project Seahorse has long realized that efforts to support seahorses must involve action and collaboration at all these levels, according to what is feasible and viable. We are proud of having made measurable differences at each level, too.
Project Seahorse is dedicated to ensuring there are more fish in the ocean, in healthier ecosystems.
We feed our many outputs directly into community empowerment, management, and policy… and then ensure that our contributions are mobilised for action.
Linking research and management
We keep our work focused by linking all our research and management initiatives (directly or loosely) to the fate of seahorses and their relatives. That approach creates a program that is still very broad but also coherent and cohesive. To achieve change, we are always blending research and management in a tight feedback loop. We apply scholarly knowledge to conservation decision-making and we undertake and support activities that produce conservation gains.
These five papers are examples of diverse Project Seahorse scholarly research that meets management needs:
- Foster, S.J. and A.C.J. Vincent. 2021. Holding governments accountable for their commitments: CITES Review of Significant Trade for a very high-volume taxon. Global Ecology and Conservation 27:e01572
- Zhang, X. & A.C.J. Vincent. 2020. China’s policies on bottom trawl fisheries over seven decades (1949–2018). Marine Policy 122:104256
- Aylesworth, L., S.J. Foster and A.C.J. Vincent. 2020. Realities of offering advice to governments on CITES. Conservation Biology 34(3):644-653
- Vincent, A.C.J., Y.J. Sadovy, S.L Fowler and S. Lieberman. 2014. The role of CITES in the conservation of marine fishes subject to international trade. Fish and Fisheries 15(4):563-592
- O’Donnell, K.P., M.G. Pajaro and A.C.J. Vincent. 2010. How does the accuracy of fisher knowledge affect seahorse conservation status? Animal Conservation 13(6):526-533
Securing seahorse populations and healthy oceans
The foremost practical goal of Project Seahorse is to secure healthy populations of seahorses – and healthy oceans – in the western Pacific and Indian Oceans, where the pressures are greatest. Our reach is, however, global and we are involved in scores of countries on six continents. We are putting great efforts into growing collegiate capacity in countries that are homes to seahorses, pipefishes and seadragons. This is done through mentorship, advice and collaboration.
Project Seahorse is home to the IUCN SSC Seahorse, Pipefish and Seadragon Specialist Group, which involves many colleagues around the world. The IUCN (with 1450 organizations as members) has charged this expert group with core responsibilities for conservation of the approximately 220 species of syngnathid fishes. The SPS SG is expected to assess, plan and act for healthy populations. Amanda Vincent is Chair of the SPS SG and the work of Project Seahorse and the SPS SG often overlap heavily, to the benefit of both.