I came into my program knowing full well what my interests were and what exactly I wanted to focus on. When I was asked what I wanted to do for my CBE fellowship, the answer was simple–I wanted to contribute to the conservation of coral reefs. For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed snorkeling and, eventually, diving among the reefs in my home country, the Philippines. So when I was told about a chance to work on a blue economy assessment for Kenya and Tanzania that placed special emphasis on the importance of coral reefs and mangroves, I took on the opportunity.
I admit… I had my doubts about this internship. Economics has never been my forte and so I doubted my own capabilities to contribute to this project. However, I wanted to learn. Assessing the value of coral reefs and mangroves towards the economy is essential towards emphasizing the importance of conserving these vital habitats in the midst of both climate change and the growing human population. It was a tool I needed to further develop to be able to attain my goal towards the conservation of reefs.
Due to visa and paperwork issues, I was not able to be on the ground in Kenya or Tanzania. Instead, I was able to go to Brest, France to work with WWF’s coordinator, Dr. Linwood Pendleton, for the project.
WWF does not have an office in Brest, so I had the opportunity to also work as a research intern in Institut Universitaire Europeen de la Mer–an institution dedicated to the field of marine and coastal sciences.
We have officially set off on the first dive into Kenya and Tanzania’s Blue Economy. Along with Dr. Linwood Pendleton, I am tasked to delve into all the available literature and research in search of relevant data that could be used by the economists who are a part of this valuable research–Dr. Charles Colgan of the Center for the Blue Economy and Dr. John Virdin of Duke University. Here’s to hoping for an excellent start to a project that could help contribute to the conservation of Kenya and Tanzania’s corals and mangroves!