China is the largest seafood consumer in the world, and China’s national supply can’t suffice its growing marked needs. In fact, China’s EEZ had been severely overfished in the past decades and the coastal governments are looking for ways to restore the stocks while importing more seafood from other countries to satisfy the market needs. The global seafood trade is very likely going to be affected by climate change and policy changes. My job this summer was to 1. Compile the seafood trade flow data between China and its global suppliers; 2. Analyzed the Climate Impact on the major species that China is importing. 3. Compile a case study of sustainable fishery management policy& practice globally for the Fujian Fishery Institute in China.
What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?
This summer I interned with the Environmental Defense Fund at Boston, Massachusetts. I worked under the China Ocean Program as an Asian Fishery Evaluation Intern. I worked on two independents projects: 1. Compiled trade flow data between China and its global suppliers and assessed the climate change impact on the major species. 2. Compiled case studies of sustainable fishery industries/organizations and management plans across the world and assessed the feasibility of each case under China’s cultural and legal background. The climate-fishery report is a Climate Road Map initiative that EDF and the Chinese Fishery Science Academy is launching collaboratively, and the overarching goal of this initiative is to prepare industries and policy maker to adapt to the so-called climate-ready fishery. I was very honored to be part of the team to contribute to this ground-breaking project involving multiple stakeholders and scholars from different countries. The climate roadmap is a very ambitious project and I could only a accomplish a literature review of related studies. However, my report served as a preliminary guideline for the future research focus and provided a general knowledge of what changes were expected in the ocean ecosystem.
Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally.
I had been dreaming to work for Environmental Defense Fund and EDF prove to me that it was an awesome organization that attracts truly passionate people. I was humbled by the knowledge that my co-workers had every day, and I felt so respected even as a temporary intern. There’s no office politics in EDF and everyone genuinely works for the common goal and was always happy to help me connect to other professionals, giving me career and life advice, and share some good stories and laughs with me. I was even introduced to the high-level team and joined their video conferences when they talked about the long-term blueprint for the program. I felt I was treasured as part of the team, even though my project was temporary and independent most of the time.
Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?
EDF has a very well-developed fishery knowledge Hub called the Fishery Solutions Center where EDF catalogs its global work related to ocean health and sustainable fishery. They also organized a virtual Fishery Academy where they provide training for sustainable fishery practices and data-limited fishery management. I spent a good amount of time browsing through the courses and I felt incredibly enlightened. My major takeaway was that a successful fishery management was never just about catching less fish. If we do not consider various social factors (eg. secured rights, local employment, communications, platforms for information sharing and behavioral science), it is very likely a management plan will fall part at the implementation stage. After talking with many practitioners in the sustainable fishery field, I found some common grounds in the practices—long-term secured fishing rights and co-management seems to be the most effective way to solve the “tragedy of the common” in the fishery case. A perfect solution is yet to be found, but the global fishery industry is finding its way towards sustainability.