First Draft: Guiding Stakeholder Communication in the Choptank

For my first draft, I’ve decided to combine a short speech that I would give to the stakeholders to explain the purpose of my project, and a draft of what the handout/PowerPoint would discuss. I’m still working on how to best present the information to stakeholders; I’m thinking of making it more visual and less wordy. But formatting will come later, the content expresses the important points of the OysterFuture workgroups that I wanted to get across: Goals of the workgroups, roles as stakeholders and the role of modeling. Under advice from Troy Hartley, my adviser, I switched out the last topic from social science to modeling in order to focus more on actual end results of the workgroups instead of the social science process.

Logo for the Coastal SEES NSF project on oysters in the Choptank River, Maryland

Logo for the Coastal SEES NSF project on oysters in the Choptank River, Maryland

TG speech: Thanks for participating in this OysterFutures workshop group; whether you realize it or not yet, you are an essential and valuable aspect of this research; it could not happen without you. At the end of this process, this group will be making recommendations to Maryland DNR for oyster policy in the Choptank, so what we do here is incredibly important.

We figure your friends, family and co-workers outside this group will be interested in what exactly you are participating in and we want you to talk to them! We realize however that there are many interconnected and complicated issues involved, so we’ve compiled some talking points that sum up major aspects of the project. During your discussions, use them as tools; places to jump start the conversation with others. We hope you share things that matter to you and that these outside discussions foster great conversations in this workgroup.

The points cover three key aspects of these workgroups. First are the overall goals of this workgroup, why we are all here. Second is going over who is involved and what are all of your roles. Third is the role of modeling in scientific research. We give you a lot of options and things to think over for future meetings and for when you talk to others, but don’t feel inclined to use all/any of these. We hope you’re sharing things that matter to you and will make an impact on the results of this project

(Beginning of the handout/PowerPoint)

Key Definitions

  • Case study – sometimes, representative example of a larger issue/area. Other times, a study that focuses on a specific region/topic and isn’t necessarily applicable to other regions/topics.
  • Modeling– a way to use existing data to make a particular part or feature of the world easier to understand, define, quantify, visualize, or simulate. Uncertainty in modeling is GOOD.
  • NSF – National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency with the goal of promoting the progress of science which they do through the support of all fields of fundamental science and engineering
  • Stakeholder – someone who has a vested interest in some topic. It affects them economically, socially or culturally, or some combination of the three
  • Sustainability – in this case, sustainability refers to the desire to create an active and economically beneficial fishery while protecting and respecting the biological needs of the oysters


1) Goals of the Coastal SEES OysterFutures workshop

a. Improve the integration of science and stakeholder goals for the region

b. Improve the sustainability of the natural resource policy for the region

2) Who is involved and what is my role as a stakeholder?

a) Stakeholders involved include representatives from

  • Watermen from Talbot and Dorchester counties
  • Aquaculturists
  • Seafood buyers
  • State Agency – Maryland Department of Natural Resources
  • Oyster Recovery Partnership
  • Federal Agency – NOAA
  • Environmental Citizens Groups
  • Recreational fishing
  • Scientists – mainly serving a role as observers with some input during meetings
  • Facilitators – the men running the meetings, maintaining organization

b) Your role in this process includes

  • Sharing your opinion on current oyster management in the Choptank
  • Sharing your firsthand experiences with the fishery, both now and from the past
  • Listening to the recommendations and advice of scientists; but not necessarily following them
  • Understanding the role of modeling in science and how it is an asset
    • Especially the uncertainty of modeling
  • Identifying unifying ideas/goals you have with other stakeholders
  • Being open and honest through the whole process

3) Role of Modeling

  • Used in the later part of the meetings
  • Participatory –> meaning you are a part of adding information to and formatting the model.
  • Model will project the policy objectives the stakeholders deem important –> meaning the model will incorporate human uses of the ecosystem
  • Includes factors involved in the interactions between physical conditions (ex: water temperature, dissolved oxygen), biological aspects of organisms (ex: rate of disease) and humans (ex: catch numbers, policy decisions)

This just scratches the surface of the subjects that these workgroups will hopefully address. Just remember, when you talk about this project, share things that matter to you and your role in the process. You represent the best communicators we have for the project so thank you for your dedication and passion to oysters in the Choptank!