OneOcean Response Room Briefing – Edition #14

Date: 16th October 2020

The OneOcean briefings focus on data collection around ‘ocean’ as a broad topic in international English-language media, with supporting social media analysis. The briefings explore which ocean-related stories are achieving coverage and cut through, identify where communications opportunities exist, and explore how communication can be made more impactful. The first few briefings will build up our data set and include observations on key themes but – as with the COVID-19 briefings – it will take a few briefings before we can identify trends and patterns that are emerging and evolving over time.

With this new iteration of the briefing, we find ourselves in a new operating space. Many of our standard advocacy channels are proving difficult to access, and the informal and formal influencing structures that we rely on to do our work have changed. Momentum for ocean protection can and must be regained, but in this environment aligned asks and co-ordinated messaging have an ever-increasing role to play, and we need to be both creative and resolute in ensuring the ocean voice is heard.    

The briefing provides recommendations and example materials which reflect the findings from our analysis. Find to follow a summary of the top-line findings of this week’s briefing, covering 28th September – 11th October 2020.

The full OneOcean Response Room weekly briefing and supporting analysis is available to Flotilla members. If your organisation is interested in receiving this briefing, is not a member and interested in joining, please email travis@oceanprotect.org

Summary of findings

Threats to ocean health made up almost half of ocean-related legacy media coverage collected over the past two weeks. Three key stories dominated this theme: a report on microplastics on the ocean floor; reports of a toxic spillage off the East coast of Russia; and a report on increased ocean ‘stability’ and associated risks as a result of climate heating.

Approaches and solutions to addressing threats to ocean health were much lower in volume. Coverage tended to be focused on technology and industry-led solutions to specific issues and was mostly featured in trade publications.

There was a considerable number of articles that connected individuals to the ocean through leisure, sports, endurance events, arts and fundraising ventures, highlighting ongoing individual appetite for connection with the ocean, particularly after (or between) pandemic lockdowns.

A variety of other ocean-related topics came up in smaller quantities. There was some focus on fisheries, particularly with a food or Brexit related angle. Ocean animal stories had a cetacean focus, particularly where there was crossover with human activity (orcas and dolphins banned from marine parks, shark attacks, consideration of shark squalene for COVID-19 vaccination).

In addition to what was present in the data, we also took note of what was absent. In the data that we gathered, we were surprised to see only one mention of the UN Biodiversity Summit, which was attended by nearly 150 leaders and sought to highlight the need for action to halt biodiversity degradation. There was significant media coverage of both the summit and the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, where 64 nations signed a commitment to put nature at the heart of post-COVID recovery.

Given the minimal pick-up of the Leaders’ Pledge and summit in our data, we conducted a separate analysis of legacy and social media around the Leaders’ Pledge and UN Biodiversity Summit to examine potential reasons for this. The top-level nature of coverage suggests the lack of engagement with any specifics. However, analysis into deep-dive articles around the margins of the main coverage suggest some bias towards terrestrial examples, while terrestrial-focused efforts also achieved a low level of cut through. A summary of the findings and suggestions for future opportunities can be found in Additional Research.

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