NEW YORK CITY Fan Meng of China, a visionary leader who implemented most of the first Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Chinas rapidly industrializing Guangdong Province, has been awarded the prestigious Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation. He will use the Fellowship to expand and improve the regions MPA network and thereby safeguard the extensive coastal areas from the serious threats of industrial pollution and unsustainable fishing.
Mr. Meng is the first-ever Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation from China, and is Director of the General Management Office for Ocean and Fishery Natural Preserves in Guangdong Province. He is among five of the worlds most innovative and progressive thinkers in ocean science to receive this highly competitive three-year, $150,000 fellowship in support of critical marine environment conservation initiatives. The Pew Institute for Ocean Science administers the awards and today announced the 2008 Fellows, whose projects will be based in China, Florida, France, Australia and Canada. . (Learn more about the other recipients and their projects at www.pewoceanscience.org).
Because Mr. Meng and his team will establish a wider and sounder Marine Protected Area network in the region, ocean environments in Guangdong Province will have a much better chance of being protected, to the benefit of marine life that resides there and future generations of Cantonese, said Dr. Ellen Pikitch, Executive Director of the Pew Institute for Ocean Science. We are extremely pleased to support Mr. Mengs innovative project -- the first Pew Fellowship project to be conducted in China.
Guangdong Province is located in southeast mainland China and borders the South China Sea. It is home to 80 million people and has 2,100 miles of winding coastline, the longest stretch in the country. Industry, commercial fishing, and environmental exploitation in Guangdong Province have grown rapidly in recent years, but political and public support for serious marine conservation has been slower to develop, according to Mr. Meng, who was born and raised in the province.
The recent 20-year economic development drive has brought Guangdong prosperity as well as great damage to the coastal ecosystem, said Mr.Meng, who earned his Masters degree of public administration from Sun Yat-Sen University. The Pew Fellowship will help me to extend the network of marine protected areas along the coast of Guangdong Province, to increase public and political commitment to marine conservation in China, and to professionally train staff of the MPAs so they can be more effective.
In 2002, recognizing the importance of creating an organized system for marine protection, the Guangdong provincial government created the General Management Office for Ocean and Fishery Natural Preserves, of which Mr. Meng was appointed Director in 2003. Since then, under Mr. Mengs leadership, 35 MPAs were created in the region. Although MPAs should ideally serve as strong management tools that protect marine resources and prevent further ecosystem damage, Mr. Meng explained that the MPAs have been running in low efficiency, in part because only a few of the 400 MPA employees in Guangdong are professionally trained in managing MPAs. This is a vital restricting challenge, he said.
Supported by his Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation, Mr. Meng plans to design and implement an additional 15 to 20 MPAs in Guangdong Province, and organize professional trainings for MPA staff. These strong steps will help ensure that an even more sweeping marine zone can be effectively managed. Mr. Meng will also use his Fellowship to set up an information center related to marine conservation and to launch publicity campaigns on marine conservation issues.
At present, there is no easy channel through which those concerned with marine conservation in China can get information or get involved, Mr.Meng said. The information center will change that.
Since the early 1990s, the Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation has been awarded to more than 100 leading marine scientists, economists, attorneys, and other ocean conservationists from 29 countries. The fellowship program supports innovative projects led by mid-career, emerging leaders in ocean conservation and designed to develop and implement solutions to critical challenges in the marine realm. The four other 2008 Fellows will pursue projects that aim to: safeguard Antarctic krill fisheries that serve as critical food sources for whales; create thermal enhancement techniques that can help some reef corals endure dangerously warming oceans around the world; document the government subsidies leading to unsustainable ocean fishing globally; and, determine whether selective commercial fishing, in which only certain fish are captured, harms the ecosystem more than even fishing, in which fish are broadly captured and there is heavy bycatch and discards.
Each Fellow will carry out pioneering projects to safeguard marine ecosystems that are sorely in need of protection, said Dr. Pikitch, a shark expert and conservation biologist, and a 2000 Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation herself. The ocean cant speak for itself, and these are the people who give it voice.
|Contact: Kathryn Cervino|
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science