JCU scientist named Pew Fellowship recipient

James Cook University scientist, Professor Joshua Cinner, has been awarded one of the world’s top prizes for marine conservation.

Professor Cinner, a Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, is one of five distinguished scientists from around the world to receive a prestigious Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation this year.

The Pew Fellowship supports research to improve ocean conservation and management. Fellows receive $150,000 USD for a three-year project to address critical challenges facing the world’s oceans.

Professor Cinner’s research combines social science and ecology to improve coral reef management and better understand how people interact with the environment.

“I study how social, economic, and institutional conditions influence people’s environmental behaviour; the ways they perceive and use the environment, and the ways that they can collectively organise to manage the environment,” says Professor Cinner.

He says it’s an honour to be selected for the Fellowship.

“This will allow me to pursue a project that I hope will change how we approach marine conservation,” he says.

“Typically we have tended to look for the most pristine places then lock them away from human use. That model really conceptualises people as the problem. However my project seeks to make people an integral part of the solution.”

As part of the Fellowship, Professor Cinner will conduct a world-first study of coral reef ‘bright spots’, places where communities have successfully managed their reefs.

“The world’s coral reefs are rapidly degrading and their decline is severely diminishing the well-being of the coastal communities that depend on them for food and income,” says Professor Cinner.

“Coral reef ‘bright spots’ are areas that are doing better than expected, given the conditions they are exposed to, such as poverty and access to markets. They are places that have successfully confronted the coral reef crisis despite high pressure and are places we need to learn from.”

“I want to examine the social, economic and political conditions that make bright spots possible, and formulate policies for more sustainable reef governance elsewhere in the world,” Professor Cinner says.

Professor Joshua Cinner – joshua.cinner@jcu.edu.au + 1 808 388-3963