TODAY: Seminar with Elliott Norse

4:30 PM, Fishery Sciences Auditorium

Elliott Norse

Founder and Chief Scientist, Marine Conservation Institute

The global ocean refuge system: saving marine species from mass extinction


Humans are causing accelerating biodiversity loss on a global scale, threatening our own existence, challenging us to stop this existential threat before it’s too late. The Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES)—a new in–situ analogue of the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard—is a strategic way to maintain the self–assembling ingredients (genes, species and ecosystems) in humankind&rsquos largest life support system; the sea. With early and ongoing guidance from a broad range of natural and social scientists and conservation advocates, GLORES is being designed as the world’s portfolio of protected areas to save, what marine scientists say is, the minimum percentage of area needed to avoid mass extinction. Using new technologies and effective incentives will greatly facilitate our task. GLORES partners think that prestige and economic benefits of having marine protected areas eco–labeled as Bronze, Silver or Gold Global Ocean Refuges can motivate governments to accelerate cost–effective protection of areas that marine scientists consider best able to conserve the diversity of life. To succeed, GLORES will need to provide ample short-term benefits to those governments that win Global Ocean Refuge status for their best marine protected areas.


Elliott Norse has worked to shape conservation worldwide for 36 years. After earning his BS in Biology from Brooklyn College, he examined geographical ecology of blue crabs (Callinectes spp.) in the Caribbean and the tropical East Pacific for his PhD at the University of Southern California and his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Iowa. In 1978 he left academia to start his career in conservation at the US Environmental Protection Agency, then at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (where he wrote the first publication defining maintaining biological diversity as conservation’s overarching goal), Ocean Conservancy, Ecological Society of America and The Wilderness Society before founding Marine Conservation Institute in 1996.

Elliott’s 150+ publications include a scientific paper that started the worldwide movement to reduce bottom trawling, and two seminal books: Global Marine Biological Diversity: A Strategy for Building Conservation into Decision Making (1993) and Marine Conservation Biology: The Science of Maintaining the Sea’s Biodiversity (2005). He organized the first symposium on marine conservation biology and mobilized scientists to warn that the world’s oceans are imperiled. His meetings with White House officials led President GW Bush to designate the NW Hawaiian Islands as the world’s largest strongly protected area, motivating NGOs and countries to establish much larger marine protected areas. Nonetheless, our oceans are increasingly imperiled.

Elliott is a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, served as President of the Society for Conservation Biology’s Marine Section and won the Evergreen Award for Service to the State of Washington, the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Nancy Foster Award for Habitat Conservation, the 2008 Distinguished Alumnus award from Brooklyn College and the 2012 President’s Medal from the Seattle Aquarium.

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