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.
At first I was nervous about the prospect of working at a desk in an office all summer but I’ve found it to be more rewarding than expected. My work as a Peace Corps Volunteer involved a lot of on the ground, hands on work with local fishermen. This was an invaluable experience to help influence my current research based office work. My work now involves looking at global scale issues and attempting to solve them on various levels from an outsider’s perspective. How do you do this? Top-down? Bottom-up? With local fishermen? Through political officials? With capacity building? With information dissemination? The answer, all of the above. This is an aspect of EDF that I really admire. They try to work in all of these realms and bring people together to create solutions that will work for those most affected. For example, ensuring sustainable fisheries for subsistence fishers off the coasts of developing nations. Of course it’s not perfect and they’re always revising, but they are very conscientious of their work and how it is effecting real-world people, which I think, is one of the most important aspects of conservation work.
So what have I contributed? A few things so far. A restocking pros, cons and best practices memo for the team in Indonesia as they work on revitalizing their fishing grounds. As well as helping to translate science into digestible visuals for the fishermen in Indonesia concerning migration patterns of Blue Swimmer Crab. They will be using this information during workshops in the coming week to help make decisions ensuring the continued success of their fishery. I’m also working on a paper that will help EDF find gaps in current initiatives tackling IUU (illegal, unregulated and unreported) fishing and identify where their efforts might be best placed to help address such a massive scale issue. Finally, I am building off the work of a previous intern, Megan, to look at how behavioral intervention can be used in conjunction with other measures to create more sustainable fisheries. Megan’s paper helped provide EDF with an overview of behavioral science and how it might be used in the creation of sustainable fisheries. I will be diving deeper to target some specific behaviors and create actual interventions that can be tested in the field. I may be working at a desk this summer but I’m happy to know my work is landing in the hands of those who can best use it in the field.
Finally, a word on my new tribe. One EDF Oceans staff member (who recently left for a new position) described her connection with the people here as a tribe, and I think I have to agree with her. A tribe is composed of people who have similar passions and desires to take action. I’m proud to be a part of this tribe, even if for a short time, and I hope to keep some of these members in my tribe for life!
I may only have two weeks left but I’ve already learned so much and there’s still a lot to do. Wish me luck on the completion of all of my projects!