8 public engagement workshops organized in 4 countries around the Black Sea, 2 major topics, marine litter and cetaceans, addressed by over 350 participants.
If in the past few years it became common to hold meetings and discussions with various stakeholders, these workshops represented the opportunity for citizens to discuss with other stakeholders the two major topics. ANEMONE project offered the occasion for scientists and non-scientist to interact, share knowledge and collaborate. Citizens did not represent a target group and stakeholder in the past, but now they become a focus group from the Black Sea countries, for the topics addressed.
- In Bulgaria, both workshops targeted to increase the awareness of the institutions and the general public on ongoing initiatives related to marine litter and cetacean.
- In Romania, during the first workshop, on marine litter, were trained over 30 citizens in using the methodology, centralizing and analyzing data. From cetaceans’ workshop resulted a database showing what institutions collect and have data, implemented measures and the ones that need to be address. 13 teachers were trained about how to perform land surveys in order to collect data about cetaceans and stranding events and they trained the students that are part of the monitoring network.
- In Turkey, during the first workshop were discussed solutions for marine litter issue and some institutions have established networks for raising awareness in schools. Teachers will share knowledge with their students and engage them in activities meant to protect the marine environment. The second one addressed the cetacean topic, being discussed relevant aspects related to the Black Sea cetaceans, legislation and activities needed for their conservation.
- In Ukraine, the participants had the chance to discover important information about the problem of marine environment pollution with litter and about cetacean conservation issue in the Black Sea region and they arched possible ways of solving these problems for the Black Sea. At the first workshop, they also explored existing tools for monitoring river and marine litter.
Some of the conclusions from these workshops are:
- The topics discussed during the workshops represent two important and timely subjects for all Black Sea riparian countries: Marine Litter and Cetaceans.
- ANEMONE workshops were the first ones totally addressed for citizens.
- These workshops represented an effective way to involve citizens in research, by providing them details, technical information, actually building common ground, from which citizens learn how to contribute to marine litter and cetaceans monitoring.
- These types of activities build networks between people with common interest.
- Public engagements workshops are a safe way for citizens to be properly informed and receive clear information and detailed from officials, researchers that are directly in contact with the problem, reducing the effect of fake news.
- Within these workshops were created initiatives groups that represented resources for the marine litter surveys carried out in each country.
These workshops were part of the ANEMONE project (“Assessing the vulnerability of the Black Sea marine ecosystem to human pressures“), BSB-319, funded by the Joint Operational Programme Black Sea Basin 2014-2020.