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.