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“In order to advance coastal sustainability, it is essential that science advances hand in hand with communities” «University of California Aldea News – Universidad Católica del Norte

Dr. Pilar Hay Molina, Alternate Director of Seiko Millennium Institute and an academic from UCN, to the work they are developing on the social and ecological systems of small-scale fishing, aquaculture and coastal development between Coquimbo and Chiloé.

We live in a time when the importance of protecting ecosystems has been understood. In the face of the effects of climate change, ocean acidification, human impacts on natural systems, and global drivers of change, we need new knowledge to adapt and make progress towards the sustainability of human activities.

There are many areas in which work is being done to deal with the problem and the methodologies applied to do so vary. The truth is that it is increasingly necessary to have innovations aimed at achieving the sustainability of ecosystems, particularly coastal systems.

In this context, the Millennium Institute in Sociology and Coastal Ecology (SECOS) It addresses urgent questions about sustainability in 3 socio-ecological systems of the Chilean coast: artisanal fishing, oyster farming (oysters and mussels) and coastal development.

“In general, we suggest that both scientific evidence and evidence from decision makers, as well as knowledge of societies, should be taken into account in the joint construction of new knowledge. From science, possible solutions can be generated that may be complex for a social system or society, or may be Simply correct in theory, but at the time of its application they may find different insights that could have been better combined, with the knowledge, experience and local knowledge of the community,” explains Dr Hay, Alternate Director of the Milino Sikos Institute and Academic Faculty of Marine Sciences at the Catholic University of the North (UCN).

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Everything is unified

SECOS works with coastal socio-ecological systems, that is, it develops its work on the coast of a country, taking into account the environment and its interrelationship with social systems, or people in ecosystems, in its studies. “You cannot separate ecosystems from humans. The coast has multiple uses such as tourism, resource extraction, industries, rivers that reach the sea are highly polluted, human activities that bring about changes and alter ecosystems, which is why we propose an interdisciplinary approach that allows us to study social systems The environment is a complex question that requires a comprehensive view,” emphasizes Pilar Hay.

Various university institutions spread from Coquimbo to Puerto Montt participate in the institute, with 12 principal investigators and 11 assistants, as well as a large work force with support professionals, post-doctoral students, undergraduate and graduate students spread along the coast already adding up to more than 70 people since its inception in 2021. The multidisciplinary group of scientists has advanced, from the outset, an interdisciplinary research system focused on internal collaboration that fosters the convergence of different disciplines of the natural and social sciences, as well as different business teams and laboratories, with the aim of appropriately covering social and environmental systems and progress in Frontier Sciences.

Pillar Hay explains that the philosophy of our work is the co-production of knowledge with the integration of different fields, including social actors, because we know that complex problems cannot be solved only by asking and solving questions like scientists, if we are in separation with those who use these social systems and the environment and inhabit the coastal areas.

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The academic also comments on the importance of engagement with public policy and decision makers, as the research they undertake is directly related to legislative and regulatory aspects that are informed and updated with available scientific evidence.

Hay concluded, “We have also progressed in integrating art and science, while co-creating a successful Millennium Initiative outdoor environment showcase that focuses on co-creating 6 murals along the national coast. Specifically at the end of 2021, we painted the first One on the front of Liceo de Tongoy, a project that represents the cultural roots of its educational community and reflects the unique characteristics of coastal activities in the area.”

Currently, SECOS is developing various investigations along the coast such as studies of natural banks of swamps, relocation and restoration of algal forests, economics around management and exploitation areas for benthic resources (AMERBs), study of the impact of rivers on the coast, mussel culture in Cino del Reloncafe and the inland sea in Chiloe. , among other areas.