Scanning the oceans for solutions

The field of conservation science has been highly successful in identifying, diagnosing, and publicizing declines in biodiversity and many other problems affecting our environment. It has been less successful in focusing our attention on solutions. Here we recommend the formal process of what we call a solution scan: the systematic classification of known threats and identified solutions. We illustrate this approach by cataloguing the solutions we found for major marine conservation problems: overfishing, invasive species, and pollution. Our solution scan for the problem of overfishing of a target species, for instance, revealed in excess of a hundred specific interventions, ranging from using biodegradable panels in fishing gear (to avoid ghost fishing by lost gear) to finding plant-based alternatives to fishmeal. This approach allows for rapid identification of areas deficient in solutions and is a starting point for gauging the effectiveness of each intervention. It also allows for a broader view of how we approach environmental problems by showing, for instance, that existing options weigh more heavily in favor of treatment than prevention.

Jacquet, J., I. Boyd, J.T. Carlton, H. Fox, A. Elizabeth Johnson, L. Mee, J. Roman, M. Spalding, & W.J. Sutherland (2011) Scanning the oceans for solutions. Solutions 2(1): 46-55.