If you work in coastal management in Australia, then you will be familiar with the force of nature that is, Naomi Edwards. Naomi’s passion for coastal care is infectious and inspiring, and her commitment to community-led solutions and clear communication is unwavering. I met Naomi some years ago, and was thrilled when she agreed to help me with the initial stages of Moving Oceans, including the initial project management and the website development. It is rare to meet someone who is so open to listening, so willing to stand up to hierarchies, to welcoming coastal management newcomers, to the enactment of practical solutions, and who always keeps caring for coastal health and wellbeing driving all actions. She’s not only interested in discussing the problems – she wants action!
From her home in the Gold Coast Hinterland on Yugambeh Country, she has been a founder/co-founder and member of many initiatives that have aimed to deliver real benefits for the environment and communities. This has included Intrepid Landcare, a national youth network for Landcare, which paved a pathway to be appointed as a Non-Executive Director of Landcare Australia. But she has also worked for and been on boards for organisations including South East Queensland Catchment Management Area (SEQCMA), National Surfing Reserves (Australia), World Surf Reserves – Save the Waves (USA, international) and the Australian Coastal Society. For her day job, she works as a Campaign Manager for cChange: Communications for Good, a regional-based NGO that creates behaviour change campaigns with community partners in the Pacific and manages the roll out of national/provincial-based coastal fisheries management campaigns in Melanesia.
She is also currently completing a PhD at Griffith University where she examined about the people, the ‘coastal professionals’, who work in coastal management. This project reflects the questions she felt after working within the sector and realising the people and politics behind the policies and programmes were more interesting than the work of coastal management itself.
While all of her work impacts her thinking, it is the work of her PhD that we discuss in Episode 5 of Saltwater Library: Coastal Professionals. In this discussion, Naomi explains how the people who work in coastal management shape the decisions that are made. This probably seems obvious, but coastal management is so closely associated with science, and science is still generally believed to be ‘objective’ and outside of politics, including by many scientists themselves. Of course, it’s not and it’s still the case that there is resistance to discussion how the personal relationships, beliefs, histories, knowledges and identities of coastal professionals themselves shapes the questions asked, the issues raised, the research done, the voices paid attention to, and the decisions made.
In Naomi’s work, she interviews coastal professionals from across disciplines to understand how they came to their work, and what led them there. Passion, concern, and commitment to coasts is core to each of their stories. But also core is the consistency of their identities as people – often white, often men, often scientists.
Naomi’s message is that how coastal management decisions are made needs to reflect the dynamic and multispecies nature of coasts themselves, to ensure more diversity in who we listen to, the approaches we take, and the solutions we find.
You can listen to our discussion about Coastal Professionals at Saltwater Library. And you find out more about these issues, and Naomi’s work, through the links below.
Information and resources:
cChange: Communication for Good, recent campaigns:
- 4FJ Fish Smart and 4FJ Movement Facebook page: ‘The 4FJ campaign (short for ‘For Fiji’) breaks through the noise about the future of Fiji’s fisheries. Population growth, increased income needs, modern fishing gear, and increased access to markets along with environmental threats place pressure on the sustainability of Fiji’s fisheries. The future of Fiji’s fisheries is critical for food security, livelihoods and the sustainability of coasts and oceans.’
- Solwata Blo lumi: Solwata Blo Iumi is an exciting new national campaign to understand our challenges and learn what local solutions can help so the sea can always provide for us.
Diversity in marine science and coastal management: