WITH their knowledge of threats and consequences of stressors that contribute to coral reef destruction, they have a responsibility to share those findings globally.
And that must be used to develop useful and usable decision-support tools, and at the same time team up with local communities and industry partners to help craft practical solutions.
But Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere in the US Prof Jane Lubchenco said their knowledge must be shared in ways understandable, credible and relevant to decision-making at multiple levels.
Addressing delegates at the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns, Australia, Prof Lubchenco said scientists must learn to be bilingual.
"To speak both the language of science and the language of lay people is a skill more scientists need to learn," she said.
"This is, in fact, happening in many parts of the world. Scientists, communities, NGOs, industry and governments are collaborating to development management solutions that provide for immediate local needs and enable healthy, resilient reefs.
"These are powerful, hopeful signs, they are simply not at the scale commensurate with the threats," she added.
Prof Lubchenco said reducing carbon emissions was clearly an essential step in achieving healthy oceans and reefs.
However, she said that keeping healthy reefs healthy and reversing degradation in others also required attention to land use, nutrient run off, overfishing and use of destructive fishing gear, coastal development and protection of habitat and biodiversity," she said.
"This requires non-traditional partnerships, capacity building, monitoring and sustained commitment."