Most of my work in the Coral Triangle has focused on the Philippines, Indonesia, and Timor Leste. I had not comprehensively delved into the challenges of conservation in the Melanesian countries, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. At the CI conference, I had the great fortune to meet some conservation champions from Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands that are celebrities of conservation. I will tell you about one of these participants, George Aigoma, whom I had the great opportunity to get to know over the four days at the conference.
Thirty-five conservation professionals from across the Coral Triangle states (Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timore Leste) and a representative from Madagascar attended the Innovation Lab workshop in Bali.
A few weeks have passed since the end of my CBE summer fellowship at the FAO and the magnitude of the experience is just starting to sink in. I am grateful to the Center for the Blue Economy for making it possible to enhance my study of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management through this invaluable experience. My time in Rome was enriched by my wonderful colleagues who made me feel welcome from day one and included me as a full member of the team. I benefited from their expertise and guidance and have come away with a more nuanced understanding of the issues impacting resource sustainability, fisheries value chains, community livelihoods and food security. I was exposed to the latest in fisheries management through special events at the FAO and access to a wide range of technical documents. Traveling on mission to Sao Tomé and Principe allowed me to apply the knowledge I have gained from academic study to a real-world setting and engage with stakeholders working at all levels of government and society.
Well the summer has ended and it’s time for me to go back to Monterey and school. I had such a great summer with EDF. I learned so much and was also able to make a contribution to this large body of knowledge. As my final deliverables I: completed a memo on marine restocking – the pros, cons, and in which situations it might be feasible; created visuals and a narrative of blue swimmer crab migration patterns for fishermen in Indonesia, so that they can more effectively plan a management strategy for their fisheries; wrote a white paper on current global efforts to combat IUU fishing, where the gaps lie and how EDF might play a role in filling those gaps – which I’m told will be going to the head of the Oceans department in EDF for consideration; began a draft on the methodology of behavior design and how EDF can use it for current projects around the world. Needless to say, it was a pretty busy summer.
But you can’t take the Bula out of the girl. Leaving Fiji has certainly been bittersweet, somewhat like that variety of chocolate which you cannot find in Fiji and was my first American food coming home (thanks Jason). My experience at the IUCN was amazing. I’ve never worked with people who were so welcoming and generous, I wasn’t expecting it.
My time in San Diego has ended, but what I have learned from this summer will follow me forever. My last month at the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative was extremely busy but very exciting. We had another living shorelines workshop (in Costa Mesa), I completed my paper on living shorelines in Southern California, and I attended the California Climate Action Planning Conference in San Luis Obispo.
After reflecting on my time in San Diego and working for Laura, I now understand, better than ever, the importance of collaboration and a strong network. Watching Laura interact with San Diego city officials, different non-profits, engineers, and every other person involved in climate change adaptation and coastal resilience, has shown me that unless you know the people, action is not possible. The Collaborative brings San Diego stakeholders together to discuss and determine what needs to be done to keep the county prepared for what is to come.
Attending the California CAP Conference, experiencing being in a room filled only with people who want to move forward with climate action planning and finding new and innovative ways to do that, was inspirational. I met so many people that have been paving the way for decades and pushing for climate resilience before the term even really existed. I only hope I can be that successful and inspiration at some point in my life. After being in San Diego all summer, and then going to the Conference, I realize how tight the climate action planning community is and the benefits of being a part of that network.
The summer is now over, and it’s time for school to start, but I can say that I will forever be able to use what I have learned and maintain contact with those I have met this summer for my future endeavors!
The end of my summer was a whirlwind. I spend most of it writing my report, “Beyond the Vulnerability Study: Moving from Sea Level Rise Adaptation Planning to Implementation in the San Francisco Bay Area.” In researching, I learned an incredible amount about sea level rise adaptation at the local level. I read all the cutting-edge papers and was able to partake in several webinars on the subject. Continue reading
As I climb to the end of this summer and we voyage back to Monterey for my final year, I am given an opportunity to reflect on my experiences. My own feelings of my time with Secure Fisheries and the work with Somalis plus the connections that I made reminded me of the narrator’s view of the sea and world around her/him:
Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.
O, well for the fisherman’s boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!
And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!
Break, break, break
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.
Work on Somalia seems to take on a time of its own. Somali sounds as if the deepest angers are moving from the hot core to the cold breathe. The tones pierce the ears only before the rumblings of laughter fill ones body with such relaxation that a smile is the only adequate response. Continue reading
We’ve all heard the somewhat antiquated but oft-quoted statement that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. As it turns out, this age-old trick is invaluable when tackling the challenges of community-based conservation. There are, of course, those who are already fired up and will jump at a chance to talk protected areas management and fisheries regulation. But for those community members who do not seek out conservation-themed events, four simple words all but guarantee attendance: “food and drinks provided.” This simple phrase works its magic across borders, generations, and genders, and it should not be dismissed for its seeming triviality. When you’re attempting to drum up support for conservation through community events, attendance is key. No one becomes a die-hard ocean champion over night but if you can bring people to the table with the promise of cookies and Kool Aid the future begins to look a little brighter. Continue reading
If you haven’t heard, Fiji will be cohosting COP 23 of the UNFCCC with Sweden this November. This is a pretty big deal because it is the first time a small island developing state has taken this role. As an environmental policy student, and as an American, it is quite the change to see how prominent climate change is in Fiji. The newspaper has a section dedicated to the environment and the UN Oceans Conference is headline news. Fiji is in a tough spot because like the rest of Oceania, their contributions to climate change are minuscule while they are about to face some of its earliest consequences.
The weeks have passed quickly in Hawaii. Between sunsets and conference calls July turned to August. Adventure and work have co-mingled in an internship that has expanded my conservation knowledge to the practicalities of internal operations and external partnerships. I don’t have to tell you how beautiful Hawaii is, but it takes a while to explore and get to know this place. I have been to many beautiful beaches, swum with sea turtles, seen countless humuhumunukunukuapua’a (reef trigger fish), observed a mother monk seal and her pup, and have been alerted by panicked beach goers of a shark in the water.
July was an exciting and enriching month for me split between the island nation of São Tomé and Principe and FAO headquarters in Rome. I spent the first week of July in the capital of São Tomé participating in a FAO mission in support of that country’s first ever National Fisheries Week and in response to a request by the government to work with FAO to develop a national Blue Growth strategy. Continue reading
How do you, as a young, new comer contribute to an organization that has been working on complex environmental issues for 50 years and is already staffed by intelligent, dedicated and creative people? This is what I’ve been asking myself since starting this internship. I still don’t know if I have a full answer, but I’ve definitely been doing what I can to help with the issues EDF is trying to address. Continue reading
One of the exciting aspects of my fellowship this summer has given me the opportunity to see the work supported by the California State Coastal Conservancy on the ground. Project monitoring not only gets me out of the office and away from a computer screen but has allowed me to travel to all 9 of the San Francisco Bay Area counties (San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Napa, Sonoma, and Marin), most which I had never visited before. Because of this, I’ve come to understand how large the Bay Area really is, with its many different landscapes and communities (and traffic). Continue reading
The fiery archipelago of Hawaii is one of the most fascinating places I have visited. The islands’ stunning landscapes contain high levels of endemism. Walking around the sprawling metropolis of Honolulu, bright, fragrant flowers attract colorful birds with rounded narrow beaks. Diversity in nature intersects diversity in culture as Polynesian traditions blend with Filipino and Japanese influence.
Palau may be a small country but it is positioning itself as a mighty force in the world of ocean conservation and smart growth. Palau created a shark sanctuary in 2001. In 2007, Palau established a nation-wide Protected Areas Network which is funded, in large part, by a Green Fee levied on foreign tourists. In 2015, Palau took the plunge and designated their entire EEZ as a National Marine Sanctuary, closing all waters to commercial fishing and setting aside 80% as a no-take zone. As of this year, the country is doubling-down on smart growth and responsible tourism. Countless international NGOs, foundations, and foreign governments have a presence in the country and collaborate on everything from tuna tagging to aerial surveys for illegal fishing boats. Continue reading
I’ve just been hearing reports that all my friends and family in California are dying of heatstroke, and you know what that means- it must be winter! In Fiji, that is. Fijians in the PCEG office at IUCN are all talking about how cold it’s getting here in Suva, but today is the first day I wore a light sweater, and I had to take it off halfway through the day after I got overheated. I actually had to learn how to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius from a Polish guy at my hostel when I visited the tourist town of Nadi, in order to tell people about the vast temperature range in my hometown. Something apparently pretty foreign to Fijians. Continue reading
It is a peculiar and strange innervation working on issues in the marine space but working in a location that is surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The closest saltwater environment is Great Salt Lake while the closest marine environment is surprisingly and amusingly the Gulf of California (Mar de Cortez). Marine scientists more than likely spend more time 60 feet below water than on mountains above 14000 feet, but that has been this summer. A perplexing circumstance of opposites that have raised eyebrows of people who hear about the work I have been doing and where. Continue reading