Meeting the Challenges of Communicating About Climate Change

Fisheries encompass a wide variety of roles in recreation, food security, and the global economy, however, the changing climate is threatening the balance of aquatic ecosystems, altering habitats, effecting water quality, and threatening livelihoods. Understanding how these climate impacts are relevant to our current lives is an essential step in evaluating what actions can make a difference and our own capacity for change.

The wider fisheries community, be it the scientists and managers, or constituents that use the resource, have their own personal experiences and perspectives about our aquatic environments.  Understanding how to approach these variety of viewpoints to find common ground is challenging for most issues, but it is especially difficult in the politically charged arena of climate change.  Through much trial and error, communication specialist have learned that one size does not fit all when it comes to educating the non-scientific community on the impacts of climate change.  The good news is that innovative methods and techniques have emerged with a better understanding on how to garner strategic action and gain support for policy change.

The Climate Ambassadors Program

Administered by the American Fisheries Society, the Climate Ambassadors Program provides a specialized communication skills training program that focusses on climate change.  This training will then be applied to informing and educating others about climate change and the impact on aquatic environments.  Founded on the latest research on science communications, program trainings will be in-depth, interactive, and provide the tools for fisheries scientists to more effectively communicate with thought leaders, journalists, stakeholders, and lay audiences.

Climate ambassadors are passionate and dedicated aquatic scientists that want to reach a variety of audiences and expand their thinking on the impacts that humans have on our aquatic environments.

Objectives of the Climate Ambassadors Program

  1. Build a team of aquatic scientists to partake in a communication training program specialized for climate change.
  2. Apply this training to inform target audiences on the critical issues of our changing climate and the impacts this has on fish and fisheries. This will include the development of outreach materials, presentations, and speaking engagements.
  3. Share the methods and skills gained through this program to train successive classes of ambassadors to build a network of skilled science communicators.