Bangor graduate Awarded World Prize for Work on Marine Biodiversity

Elizabeth Taylor Jay from Columbia undertaking research in Mauritius during her MSc in Marine Environmental ProtectionElizabeth Taylor Jay from Columbia undertaking research in Mauritius during her MSc in Marine Environmental ProtectionElizabeth Taylor Jay, who gained an MSc Marine Environmental Protection in 1997/98 after studying at Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences, received the World Award for the Best Action on Biological Diversity 2010, during the UN Summit on the Convention of Biological Diversity, held in Nagoya, Japan last week. 

Elizabeth is the Director of CORALINA, a Colombian Government Conservation Agency in Providence, Colombia, with whom she began working after graduating from Bangor. The World Award for the Best Action on Biological Diversity is awarded by IUCN (The International Union for Conservation of Nature), and marked the countdown to the 2010 target for protecting biological diversity,  which has significantly been missed at a global scale. 

The award was for work on the Seaflower Marine Protected Area - a 200,000 ha reserve in the Caribbean, which provides for fishing communities to fish sustainably in some zones, alongside 'no-take' zones, no entry zones and general use zones.  In particular, the project sought to protect coral reef habitats and restore economically important populations of queen conch. Elizabeth flew to Japan to collect the award in front of an international audience at this globally important Convention on Biological Diversity meeting, where some 18,000 participants represented the 193 Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).  The Parties agreed to 1.) at least halve and where feasible bring close to zero, the rate of loss of natural habitats including forests; 2) establish a target of 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 per cent of marine and coastal areas; 3) through conservation and restoration, Governments will restore at least 15 percent of degraded areas; 4) Governments will make special efforts to reduce the pressures faced by coral reefs.

Elizabeth was supported by the UK Department for International Development through the British Council to study the MSc in Marine Environmental Protection (MEP), and undertook her research project on mapping coral ecosystem habitats in the lagoons of Mauritius, Indian Ocean with Dr John Turner and Professor Colin Jago of the School of Ocean Sciences. 

John Turner, MEP Course Director said:  'This is a fantastic achievement by Elizabeth and her team at CORALINA, and we are delighted to congratulate her on an outstanding and globally recognised project.   It is terrific to see our graduates actively involved in world class conservation initiatives, which not only protect biologically diverse coral reef ecosystems, but also provide for local livelihoods'.

Ocean Sciences staff, PhD students and MSc Marine Environmental Protection students are currently involved in a number of programmes designed to protect marine biodiversity in tropical ecosystems.  These include new projects on Community-based Marine Protected areas in the Kingdom of Tonga, Pacific;  Darwin Initiative project to enhance Established Marine Protected areas in the Cayman Islands, Caribbean; and DelPHE/UNESCO-UNITWIN project in marine biodiversity and sustainable development in Zanzibar, Indian Ocean.  3 MSc students undertook their research projects in Tonga last year alongside PhD student Siola'a Mali Mali with Dr John Turner and Profs Mike Kaiser and Gareth Edwards Jones (SENERGY);  three MSc students worked in Cayman in 2009 and 2010 alongside PhD student Croy McCoy and John Turner, and two MSc students will be undertaking projects in Zanzibar this summer with Drs Turner, LeVay and Skov. 

Dr John Turner said that 'these programmes provide valuable opportunities for our MSc students to undertake applied research on marine biodiversity, working in collaboration with overseas conservation agencies and government departments, providing excellent experience for successful careers and outstanding achievements, as exemplified by Elizabeth Taylor-Jay.'

BBC News website story on Elizabeth Taylor's award
More information on 2010 CBD meeting
More information on Bangor marine conservation project
More information on MSc course in Marine Environmental Protection

Publication date: 2 November 2010