Plenary Focus: Dr. Amanda Vincent Stresses Turning International Agreements into Action



Dr. Amanda Vincent, marine biologist and conservation scientist, will be featured as a plenary speaker at the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress in August 2014. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Vincent)

Dr. Amanda Vincent, marine biologist and conservation scientist, will be featured as a plenary speaker at the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress in August 2014.
(Photo courtesy of Amanda Vincent)

Dr. Amanda Vincent is self-diagnosed as suffering from “aqualust,” a condition related to by many marine biologists. A co-founder and director of ProjectSeahorse, she was the first person to study seahorses underwater, the first to document the extensive trade in these fishes and the first to initiate a seahorse conservation project. Her research and advocacy work for marine conservation have earned Vincent several awards and accolades, including being named the 2000 William Dawson Scholar at McGill University, Montréal, Canada, while she was serving on the faculty. Vincent holds the Canada Research Chair in Marine Conservation in the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia, Canada. She is Chair of the IUCN Seahorse, Pipefish and Stickleback Specialist Group and a PEW Fellow in Marine Conservation. 

She is also actively involved in marine conservation policy and will be speaking at the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC3) on the “trade winds and trade offs” of CITES. “My talk is about improving the way that international agreements and action can work for marine life,” Vincent explained. “No matter how small or localized the issue, it will be influenced by regional and global forces.  This is particularly true in the ocean, where just everything is connected. Global governance isn’t all smooth sailing … but it must be brought to help.” 

Vincent is considered one of the world’s leading experts on seahorses and related species. She has studied enriching and utilizing knowledge of local seahorse populations to scale up community-based initiatives for seahorse conservation, improving the status of seahorse populations in the Philippines under fishing pressure, and using an unfortunate trade ban to advance seahorse conservation, with the fishers’ co-operation, as well as empowering developing countries to meet international obligations for seahorse conservation and more. She also supported a landmark CITES Appendix II listing for marine fishes of commercial importance.

Vincent says becoming a mother greatly reinforced her commitment to the ocean and its future. She’s excited to be a plenary speaker for IMCC3. She stated, “Giving a plenary talk at IMCC3 will be a magical opportunity to share ideas, challenge ideas and develop ideas about solutions for the ocean.  Together, we need to pick up the pace in marine conservation.”

Vincent will be featured as an IMCC3 plenary speaker on 14 August 2014 at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow, a day showcasing strong female marine conservationists.

Follow Vincent on Twitter @amandavincent1.

Samantha Oester is Communications Chair for IMCC3. She can be reached at for information on the IMCC3 Plenary Speakers and other facets of the Congress.


IMCC for Beginners: A Student’s Perspective


By Katheryn Patterson

If you’ve never been to an international conference, the IMCC is a great way to get your toes wet!

I remember attending my first international conference, only knowing three other people in a brand new country. It was very intimidating for new participants and I had a really hard time getting to know other delegates. When I attended my first IMCC, I was amazed at the contrast.  The laid-back nature of the International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) and its incredibly welcoming delegates makes students feel comfortable from the start and allows for ample networking opportunities.

DSCN5073One reason I continue to go to IMCC is that I always find a new perspective or angle for my research after attending, due to the interdisciplinary nature of the congress and diversity of its attendees. There really is something for everyone at IMCC no matter if you are a scientist, in policy, communication, academia, non-governmental, governmental work, or any other field. The list of affiliations and disciplines represented at the congress is endless! For this reason, IMCC has always been a successful venue for students in terms of finding future mentors, graduate committee members, collaborators, funding, and even employment opportunities.

The IMCC organizers and their Student Committee go to extreme lengths to enroll and support student delegates, who account for 23 percent of the delegates at the last congress in 2012. We are expecting an even greater number of student delegates at the 3rd IMCC in Scotland, 14-19 August 2014, due to the close proximity of several universities featuring marine programs in the areas surrounding Glasgow. With this in mind, the student committee has put a great deal of time, effort, and thought into the student-focused activities that will be held this year.

Karaoke, anyone?

Karaoke, anyone?

We always try to offer a good mix of professional-development workshops, where students walk away from the congress with new skills, and social-events – and as we say in the south (U.S.) “Ya’ll, it is time to step away from the books, models, and stats to take the night off to celebrate your successes and make new friends!”

For me personally, IMCC represents so much more than the average scientific conference.  The presenters understand the interdisciplinary nature of the work in this field, which means you don’t find new research being presented simply for the science or raw data—instead, presentations address bigger application questions such as “what do these results MEAN,” or “what applications do these findings have?” Since I believe that many stakeholders have valuable perspectives to offer in marine conservation, this partnership-based approach gives me tools and perspectives that make my efforts more effective.

The Society for Conservation Biology’s Marine Section Board has worked diligently to ensure that there is a great sense of community among our marine section delegates and this is incredibly transparent at our congress. We have great student-specific events lined up for IMCC3 and we hope to see you there!

Katheryn Patterson is our Student Committee Co-Chair and Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Environmental Science & Policiy, George Mason University. Find her on Twitter @MarineKatPat

Take a Trip to the Capital


by Kirsteen McColgan



Calton Hill

You’ll have a great time in Glasgow while attending IMCC3, but why stick to one city? Scotland is a beautiful and remarkably small country, so it’s really easy to travel around. And number one on any itinerary would have to be a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city.

Catch a train from Queen Street Station in Glasgow, for the 55-minute journey delivering you straight into Waverley Station, in the very heart of Edinburgh. Stroll along Princes Street as you get your bearings and grab a coffee in Jenners. This iconic department store is a mecca for shoppers but also has a fantastic restaurant and café/bar with great views of the city. Wander through the glorious Princes Street Gardens, past the Scott Monument. You can climb the 287 steps to the top if you’re feeling energetic! Carry on up the Royal Mile (yes it is just a mile, honest!) and you’ll come to Edinburgh Castle; Scotland’s number one tourist attraction. See Scotland’s Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny and take in the atmospheric ambiance of the Great Hall.

National Galleries with Princes St Gardens (1)

National Galleries and Princes St Gardens


On your way back down the Royal Mile, you might feel in need of a little pick-me-up. And if a dram or two is your tipple of choice, head to the Scotch Whiskey Experience. Located right by the castle, this insight into Scotland’s most famous export is a real treat. Take a tour through a replica distillery, hear the secrets of this magical craft and finish it all off with a sample of the amber nectar itself – nice!

2014 is a time of potentially huge change for Scotland, as we decide if we want to be an independent nation. So, while you’re in the area it would be crazy to miss out on a visit to the new Scottish Parliament building; the place where it’s all happening. You can wander round the public areas by yourself or, if you plan your visit in advance, book a tour and a seat in the Debating Chamber – for free!

Museums – Edinburgh’s got a fair few, but a firm favourite is the National Museum of Scotland. It’s recently undergone a face lift and is well worth a visit for the great range of exhibits and galleries. It’s also worth a look just to take in the splendour of the building itself. Sit in the Great Hall and take it all in, then head up to the roof garden for panoramic views of the city – spectacular!

Take some time to wander round the Old and New Town, taking in the stunning scenery, architecture and general ambiance of the city. You’ll find loads of places to eat and drink; upmarket restaurants, small artisan cafes, modern brasseries, local pubs. But if you’re looking for something special to eat before heading back to Glasgow, try The Dome in George Street, The Witchery up by the castle or The Dogs Kitchen Bar in Hanover Street – all provide a taste of Scottish cuisine at its very best.

And that’s it; a whistle-stop tour of the main sights and sounds of the very heart of Scotland’s capital. But there’s loads more to see and do. So don’t take my word for it – take a trip and see for yourself!

–Kirsteen McColgan is part of our Local Organising Committee for IMCC3, living just outside Glasgow. She’s also our Volunteer Co-ordinator.

The Benefits of Attendance: IMCC3


by Edd Hind


Without the International Marine Conservation Congresses (IMCC), I very much doubt I would be where I am today, professionally. At the first IMCC in 2009, I learned from experts in my field the methodology that would become central to my doctoral research. Two and a half years ago at IMCC2 in downtown Victoria, British Columbia, I shared sustainable seafood and locally brewed beer with a group of strangers who are now trusted collaborators. It’s as a result of these experiences that I think the IMCC is one of the “must attend” marine conservation conferences. The board members of the Marine Section of the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) have been putting their heads together over the last week to state why they too believe that IMCC3 should be your “must attend” conference this year. Here’s what they had to say:

  • IMCC has a history of getting people with different experience levels and areas of expertise together to exchange ideas for the benefit of all involved. Alongside many interactive workshops and symposia, IMCC3 already has many student events scheduled.
  • Some of the best theories or ideas in science have come out because of a couple of strangers, or even friends, getting together over a coffee or a beer. The second IMCC had nine scheduled social events, and IMCC3 will provide similar opportunities.
  • Over five days, you will be exposed to a flood of new ideas, hypotheses, methods/techniques, analyses and findings—any scientists that say that’s not valuable might as well burn all their books, disconnect their computers from the internet, and go back to the middle ages while they’re at it!
  • The program will include workshops and courses that teach tangible skills, such as software, applications, and communication. Many marine scientists and managers have learned how to communicate with the media and use packages like Marxan at previous IMCCs. In Glasgow, there will be opportunities not only to develop your social media and GIS skills, but to apply those skills to causes you care about. You’ll have the opportunity to rescue marine mammals!
  • Conferences are perfect places to network for funding and research contacts. The previous IMCCs have attracted more than 1200 delegates per meeting. That’s a lot of opportunities to connect!
  • Remember, astronauts are the only scientists that work well in a vacuum. There will be no astronauts or vacuums at IMCC3!

IMCC3 is being held in Glasgow, Scotland, from 14-18 August 2014. More details about the meeting can be found at the conferences dedicated website.  I’m looking forward to seeing you there so we can share ideas over a wee dram of coffee or world-class whisky!


Edd Hind is a resident lecturer for the School for Field Studies. He is a member of the IMCC3 Communications Committee.