AWI Final Reflections

My last day at the AWI German Arctic Office

I will begin this post as I ended my first post with a picture of me and the German Arctic Office banner. My CBE Fellowship with the Alfred Wegener-Institut German Arctic Office is coming to a close.

My daily routine of bike riding, taking the 92 Tram to/from Kirschalle/Postdam Hauptbahnhof and then the 691 bus to the AWI on the Telegrafenberg and eating lunch with Dr. Rachold, Lisa and Gerlis of APECES everyday in Cafe Freundlich has come to an end. I spent time with new friends from IASS, ate Doner Kebab, currywurst, dranked German beer and visited several of the historical sites in Potsdam and Berlin (pictured below) while working for one of the best Arctic science organisations.

There were tough times in the beginning and I thought often about whether I made the right decision. There was not much of a cultural shock to me despite some significant challenges, but I’m glad I can say that I survived 2 months in Germany, and that I was able to complete a fellowship at the AWI. I fulfilled my dream of working with the AWI. I feel very accomplished! And I am so lucky! Here’s to next time and future collaborations with the AWI and my German Arctic colleagues.

Ich werde euch vermissen. (I will miss you).

What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?

My CBE Fellowship as an Arctic policy research intern with the Alfred Wegener-Institut German Arctic Office (AWI) located in Potsdam, Germany ended on 20 September 2019. As an Arctic policy research intern, my responsibilities consisted of assisting the head of the German Arctic Office, Dr. Volker Rachold and AWI/APECS project officer, Lisa Grosfeld with organizing an Arctic science to policy workshop taking place in Reykjavik, Iceland in October 2019. My primary work focused on conducting literature review on Arctic laws and agreements to formulate a fact sheet, called Governance in the Arctic. The project addresses fundamental questions regarding Arctic ownership, governance, the role of Indigenous Peoples, existing institutions and agreements, Arctic cooperation, the role of Germany in Arctic policy and science and challenges in the Arctic.

The experience at the AWI afforded me the opportunity to interview Arctic Indigenous representatives of the Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat in Tromsø, Norway, the Director of the Arctic Centre in Lapland, Finland and the Arctic Governance group at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, Germany. Additionally, I was able to interact with representatives from the Germany Federal Foreign Ministry and the head of the MOSAiC Arctic expedition, Dr. Markus Rex. The final product of the fact sheet was well received by my AWI colleagues. We anticipate that the fact sheet will also be well received throughout the Arctic community, the German Federal Government, the Arctic States and the general public.

My last lunch at Cafe Freundlich. The meals here were so delicious!

Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally.

In 2016, I decided to apply to graduate school and focus on Arctic policy. I wanted also more than anything to work for the Alfred Wegener-Institut Helmholz Center for Polar and Marine Research. I can say with great pleasure that I can check these two items off my list. My experience interning with the AWI was extremly benefical to my career development. Prior to my relocation to Germany, I had been working as a CBE graduate assistant to senior CBE Fellow and Executive Director of the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH), Dr. Brendan P. Kelly. He has worked extensively in the field of Arctic science as a marine biologist and now focuses on the science to policy interface. This interface is part of my professional and personal interest.

I had the opportunity to work directly with Dr. Rachold and communicate with other science and policy practitioners on this topic. I connected also with directors from other Arctic organizations and was introduced to representatives from the German Federal Foreign Ministry. We discussed the importance of a sustainable Arctic. I met also Dr. Hugues Lantuit at the AWI, who is a geologists and permafrost expert guiding the Nunataryuk Horizon 2020 permafrost project. I will collaborate with Dr. Lantuit on this project in my current position as a project assistant at Grid-Arendal in Arendal, Norway. The benefits of my professional and personal experience working at the AWI has afforded me opportunities I didn’t think would be available to me this early in my professional and graduate career. I have further expanded my Arctic network by building relationships with others in the Arctic community. Additionally, I was fortunate to attend the Arctic Futures 2050 conference in Washington, D.C. during my fellowship with the AWI. Here I connected with other like minded professionals to bridge knowledge gaps between the science, indigenous traditional knowledge holders and policy makers. I am grateful to Dr. Kelly and Rachold for allowing me to be apart of these experiences. Through every experience I gain a new mentor, colleague and friend. I am glad to be a professional member of the Arctic community.

The AWI is already great! I just liked this sign on Dr. Lantuit’s office door. (:

Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?

Not to dwell on the negative because it leads one down a rabbit hole but my experience in the country of Germany began as an unwelcoming one. I was met with unkindness at different levels by locals and native Germans. This was my first time traveling to Europe. I was disappointed. I did not have unrealistic expectations and I was not expecting to be met with such terrible disturbances. These moments preyed on my mental state. However, I thought about the girl from  2016 who declared that she would work for the AWI. This girl told her MIIS career advisor that she would become the first MIIS student and alumni to work for the AWI and she did. This girl is me. After rebooting and centering myself I was not going to allow these outside disturbances to interfere with the thing I love most – my Arctic work. I persevered. I gained more from this experience with the AWI and living internationally than I could have ever imagined. I learned a lot about myself and others. The environment on the science campus and the AWI was very supportive and welcoming. The AWI German Arctic office is small. It consists of three people. I was glad I could work in such an intimate setting with my colleagues. We ate lunch together every day and learned much about one another. Dr. Rachold put in a great deal of effort to make sure I was comfortable, welcomed and made me feel part of the AWI. The AWI was everything I envisioned it to be, and I am forever grateful and indebted to Dr. Rachold for inviting me to intern under his direction. I am glad to call him a mentor, colleague and friend.

My last hours at the AWI. The fact sheet is complete. Dr. Rachold is happy and so am I.
The German Arctic Office is located in the building behind me.

Mandii Hoffman, Anzhela Safina and I walking the grounds of Sanssouci
Doner Kebab in Berlin
The famous German Currywurst
One does not go to Germany and not drink a German beer
Leftover Berlin Wall

Berlin Brandenburg Gate
The Chinese House on the grounds of Sanssouci Palace
Goodbye for now! Auf Wiedersehen. Next stop Norway!

AWI Fact sheet continued…

I am in the second half of my fellowship with the AWI and the literature review continues, but the fact sheet is coming together very well. Dr. Rachold and I converse biweekly regarding progress, content, formatting, and imagery of the fact sheet. All of the AWI fact sheets include a cover photo to represent Arctic scenery appropriate to the theme. Dr. Rachold and I agreed that a representation of the Arctic region was appropriate for my fact sheet, Governance in the Arctic. We decided that an Arctic map would be best. This was the perfect opportunity for me to put the GIS skills I learned at MIIS to use. I met a wonderful gentlemen and AWI GIS wiz, Sebastian Laboor. Together, we created an Arctic map. The map represents the economic exclusive zones of the eight Arctic States, the North Pole, Arctic Ocean, Arctic Circle and the Arctic Marine Assessment Program’s (AMAP) boundary line (see image above). The AMAP is a working group of the Arctic Council. The boundary lines are especially relevant as there are different definitions of the Arctic based on the context of the region. The Arctic Circle boundary circles the globe at 66° 34′ N of the equator. Some use it to describe the Arctic region as the area above the Arctic Circle. The AMAP boundary defines the Arctic region as the marine and terrestrial areas north of the Arctic Circle, north of 62°N in Asia and 60°N in North America, and includes elements of the Arctic Circle, political boundaries, permafrost limits and major oceanographic features.

Arctic Experts and Interviews

In addition to my constructing the Arctic GIS map, I conducted interviews with members from the Institute for Advance Sustainability Studies (IASS) Arctic Governance team in Potsdam, Germany, the Arctic Council’s Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat located in Tromsø, Norway (IPS) and the Arctic Centre located in Lapland, Finland (see below images). I am very appreciative and grateful that each of them we willing to speak with me and discuss at length the future of Arctic governance, perspectives, ownership, Indigenous youth, culture, language, resources, challenges and positive relationships. These wonderful people provided feedback and reviewed the content of the fact sheet for accuracy and clarity. I’d like to thank Michaela Stith, IPS Associate (not pictured here) for providing comments and review of the fact sheet as well. I am forever grateful for their time, engagement and for enhancing my thoughts on the realities of the Arctic region. (The images below were obtained from the organisation or the world wide web)

Arctic Centre Director, Timo Koivurova
Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat Executive Secretary, Anna Degteva
IASS Arctic Governance Research Associate, Vilena Valeeva
IASS Arctic Governance Intern, Anzhela Safina and I at Sanssouci Schloss in Potsdam
IASS Arctic Governance Research Associate, Marianna Pascale Bartels

Arctic literature and presentations

Arctic issues – Potsdam Summer School

A few weeks ago, I connected with public policy professionals from the Potsdam Summer School. I attended only the Arctic Issues session where Dr. Rachold and other AWI scientists and researchers gave presentations. The Arctic Issues session took place on the AWI campus. The session was highly constructive and informative. A lot of the content is known to me, but I learned a great deal from those participating in the summer school. The Q/A and discussion period led to great conversations. This was another highlight of my time at the AWI. I met professionals from all walks of life with different policy interests, and I learned more about the Nunataryuk Permafrost Horizon 2020 project.

I will contribute to the Permafrost Atlas for the H2020 project in my current role as project assistant in the Polar and Mountain program at the Grid-Arendal in Arendal, Norway.

There are several international partners for the permafrost project but the AWI is responsible for project coordination.

The AWI presentation at the Potsdam Summer School
Dr. Hugues Lantuit of the AWI, Permafrost Project Coordinator
Dr. Volker Rachold (left) giving the German Arctic Office presentation
Arktischer Rat and Schifffahrt in der Arktis (Arctic Council and Shipping in the Arctic) are two fact sheets created by the AWI

Arctic Futures 2050 Conference

Busy times ahead… Dr. Rachold and I flew to Washington, D.C. to attend the three day Arctic Futures 2050 conference hosted by the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH). This conference bought together Arctic scientists, Indigenous Peoples and policy makers to explore the knowledge needed to inform decisions concerning the Arctic in the future. I am grateful to Dr. Brendan Kelly, Executive Dir. of SEARCH and my CBE graduate supervisor for sponsoring my travel to/from AF 2050. I was especially glad that I could attend as the objective of the conference aligns with the topic of my master’s project for the Applied Professional Practicum at MIIS. This was an extremely informative, educational and professional experience for me. This experience will no doubt contribute to my career and professional network. I had the privilege of networking with policy makers, Indigenous Sámi and Inuit representatives and Arctic researchers, not to mention absorbing the variety of knowledge in the tent (below).

Arctic Futures 2050
Dr. Rachold on a panel discussing informing Arctic policy
My poster was accepted for presentation at AF 2050
The AWI German Arctic Office poster was also accepted for presentation.

Galapagos Reflexion

What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?

Working with WildAid Galapagos and the Galapagos National Park I was able to revise and complete the procedures manual for the Marine Control Department of the National Park, work on updating a database of all the illicit marine activity taking place in the marine reserve in 2019, rescue and disentangle several Galapagos Sea Lions, and assist the park veterinarian in monitoring and taking blood samples from Sea Lion populations on the island of Santa Fe. Furthermore, I assisted with several patrol trips of the Galapagos Marine reserve to help monitor fishing and tourism activity, and I worked on a week-long excursion to monitor albatross and tortoise populations on the island of Española. Finally, I assisted in research to support an economic analysis looking into raising the prices of private tourists’ boats that wish to enter and visit the Galapagos marine reserve.

Some of my work had a very direct impact; the Sea Lions that I rescued have a much better chance of surviving now than if I hadn’t helped rescue and disentangle them, and the National Park has an updated database and a more comprehensive operations manual. However, perhaps more interesting is the potential impact that some of the projects I helped with may have in the future. The research excursion to Española has the potential to provided invaluable information on the health of global albatross populations (it is one of the only islands in the world where they nest) and could influence conservation policy. The research I did for the economic analysis has the potential to change the prices and affect the tourism industry of the Galapagos.

Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally?

Professionally this experience has helped me learn how international conservation NGOs, such as WildAid, work and interact with local governmental organizations, like the Galapagos National Park. I’ve also benefitted from a large professional network of people I have met here. These professional relationships even lead to the National Park inviting me back next year to work with the vet. Finally, I have learned what the management structure of a conservation NGO looks like and I was able to put into practice much of what I learned at MIIS.

Personally, my time in the Galapagos has helped me grow immensely. While I was already a good Spanish speaker, these past three months my Spanish has improved dramatically, especially when it comes to using professional language. I have also made several lifelong friends who I will go back to Galapagos to visit. This experience also really shaped what my career goals will look like in the future.  

Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?

After my time working with WildAid and the National Park in the Galapagos I realized the career I would like to pursue. Thoughts of this career change had been in the back of my mind since I worked at the Marine Mammal Center while studying at MIIS, but after my time in the Galapagos I am sure of it. The next chapter of my life will be dedicated to studying to go to vet school. My dream is to be a marine wildlife vet. Committing to at least six more years of studying after graduating from MIIS is a huge endeavor, but after working with the vet here in Galapagos I know it is what I want to do. Working with WildAid and the National Park helped me realize that this has been my dream and if I don’t follow it I will regret it.    

Final Reflections

What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?

The final product of my work with WWF and IUEM was a spreadsheet of compiled economic data from published research and studies on coral reefs and mangroves in East Africa. The data was organized according to relevance towards the Blue Economy, such as economic impact towards fisheries and tourism–sectors of valuable significance towards Kenya and Tanzania’s overall economy. The data would later on be used by the organization to provide an overall assessment of Kenya and Tanzania’s Blue Economy. This assessment would put an economic value on mangroves and coral reefs within the two countries that would hopefully advocate for the protection of these vital marine habitats.

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CBE Summer Fellows 2019-Final Report

Chiao Ting, Taiwan,

May 1- July 27. Satoumi Food supplies Ltd. (Closed)

Fig 1 The 2018 Blue Pioneer Program (July 29 – Aug 9) went to Packard Foundation. Thanks to my boss agree that I can come back earlier to join this team.

What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?

(1)    Building a model that the company can provide captured seafood by a shorter supplying period in each species. By this way, the nearshore marine environment could have less pressure in overfishing. (When the total seafood quantity is the same in the market, the supplier can provide double or more species to mitigate the commercial fish catching pressure in near-shore)

(2)    Finding out the unreported fish resources, especially the fish is from bottom-trawl boats

(3) stop any possible illegal selling on the ocean

(4) use Facebook to reveal the small-scale capture fishery and problem and stimulate chefs’ to rethink about the lack of fish resources.

Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally.

My boss solved the problem of stray dogs and ended the business fighting dogs (RSPCA). Therefore, when he joins to the seafood market, he hopes that fish should have less pain when they die, and they should have higher quality in transporting. Before having this internship, I was a marine conservator and have educated people in the museum and schools for many years. I believed that people, who work in the capture fishery and catering, should understand and have a serious attitude in the declining of fish resources. Unfortunately, the internship teaches me that people can do everything when they face to the benefit. The capture fishery industry is not like an international company, they could not follow the 4 bottom lines. Sadly, even the high-end restaurants who are from a multinational corporation, they also do not want to follow the 4 bottom lines, to carry the social responsibility, and to care about environmental responsibility.

After this internship, my friend, who has worked for public education, told me that: educating people is not easy, especially you want to educate people in an industry.

Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?

“Fish is an animal, food, or money?”

This is the only topic my boss has talked to me during these few months. From the business side, any type of earning money will be a good policy for people. However, how to “steal” some fish from the consumers” is a challenge.

To review the industry which relies on capture fishery, there are various types: (1) Food (selling to Taiwan and China) (2) Religion release (3) Conservation (for subsidies) are three major commercial activities in Taiwan. Also, when the maximum producing cannot match with the selling time, many fishermen and distributors tend to catch as much as possible, and they freeze the products in the future. Unfortunately, predicting the selling quantity in the market is difficult, so, the market price is always unstable and has an extreme gap in the price. Having an unstable price in seafood is very easy to trick the government if it wants to regulate the market and the quantity of a product. This internship told me that why there is always a gap between industry and the government. In Taiwan, the public policy is in the public administration; In the U.S., the public policy and public administration have relative and independent. Therefore, if a person who writes a public policy for industry, it usually has a huge barrier so that the policy becomes very weird and is difficult to follow.

Discovering Brest

Of all the places I had thought of going to for my summer fellowship, I never would have thought of being based in Brest, France–especially when I had zero skills in speaking or even understanding French! I admit… I had never even heard of the city before this internship was recommended to me so it has never been on my list of top destinations to work. As someone who grew up in the tropics and prefers the tropical climate, I had imagined being somewhere closer to the equator. Despite this, however, Brest definitely did not disappoint!

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Final Reflections from BSR

What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?

My summer at BSR was one of the most educative periods of my life to date. I had three main work accomplishments with the Clean Cargo Working Group (CCWG). First, the IMO 2020 report which I wrote about in my previous blog post.

Second, CCWG strives to be forging new partnerships in and outside of its membership to build its capacity and foster innovative solutions to decarbonizing the international maritime shipping industry. For an example of one of these innovative solutions, CCWG was an instrumental organizer between Heineken, GoodFuels, Combined Cargo Terminals, and Reinplus Fiwado Bunker to partner together and build a 100% sustainable biofuel ship (I was not involved with this project, as it pre-dated my time at BSR). To increase our capacity to be innovators in this field, I built a landscape map identifying innovators and innovation catalysts in green shipping around the world with whom we could connect with our members to start new, sustainable partnerships. As a result of this work, CCWG is connecting with many innovators around the world, and is already participating in one incubator’s award process. In addition to growing our capacity and reach, I re-designed some of our recruitment decks to attract more members to CCWG.

Third, I created a survey tool to help shippers (companies who own goods and hire ship owners to move their goods) assess the sustainability of their procurement process. When shippers want to make more sustainable decisions when procuring their shipping orders, they need ask questions like: what is emissions footprint of our shipping activities, are our carriers participating in leading sustainability initiatives such as CCWG, and is our leadership investing resources to make more sustainable choices? When the survey tool is launched (scheduled for October), shippers around the world will have a self-assessment tool that will provide guidance on how to take the next step to making their procurement process more sustainable.

Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?

Before this summer I had no exposure to the transportation sector, and now I am looking for work primarily in transportation. In addition, my whole life I have thought I would work in government, focusing on public policy, but now I am leaning towards staying in the private sector, focusing on sustainability collaborations in business.

Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally.

I was working alongside people who are at the forefront of decarbonizing an industry that represents 2.2% of global greenhouse gas emissions and moves approximately 90% of the world’s cargo in volume. I was on weekly calls and daily emails with global heads of sustainability for some of the biggest companies in the world, representing a leading sustainability initiative. It was a truly unique experience that opened up a lot my doors of professional growth and networking.

In addition, I moved to San Francisco and absolutely fell in love with the city. I am here to stay! A fun fact, if you are in the Bay Area, and you see a cargo ship rolling into the Port of Oakland (as I did in this picture below taken from Treasure Island), rest easy knowing that that ship (and every cargo ship) that comes into the Port of Oakland is a CCWG member!

The passive government and the positive market: How to use the market to find out the wasted fish.

The seafood market is a giant market in Taiwan. However, because the ocean is large (about 180,000 km2) and the marine environment is complicated (coral reef environment in the South China Sea, kelp environment in the Ease China Sea, Kuroshio ocean current, and China coastal current), the seafood is various so that it is difficult to be regulated.

According to the Fishery Agency, there are 322 genus species are economic marine species, but only a few species have clear data of fish population to modify its catching. These species include tuna family (Family Scombridae), mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus), and farmed fish (about 12 genus and species). Therefore, a consumer could have various choices in fish but the products could be from boats which are from IUU fishing (Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing).

This end of June, Taiwan, because of pressure from the European Commission, leads the long-distance fleets to comply with the RFMO obligations systematically (Regional Fisheries Management Organization) and have VMS (vessels monitory system). Now, it is the time to stimulate the small-scale fishing vessels to have legal, reported, and regulated fishing. But, how to do it?

If we use the “cap and trade” on GHG management, the tax is a cap and the carbon market is a trade. Similarity, the prescription in the small-scale fishery from the government is the cap and the high-end catering industry will be the trade in the seafood market in Taiwan. We hope to stimulate people to understand which species they are eating and what the impact will give to the ocean by the chosen fish from the high-end catering industry. The reason is we notice that many Taiwanese tend to know what the seafood is eaten by wealthier. By revealing the seafood what they like to eat, the local social media would report and stimulate people that they should choose this new seafood carefully or not.

This summer, I am working in Satoumi (里海有限公司). Satoumi is a company which provides many high-end restaurants in Taiwan. These chefs are looking for local food, including seafood. Unfortunately, the choice in seafood is very difficult. To review the reason why the local seafood providing is so difficult, we got some reasons: the marine environment is changing too quickly but the scientific data did not follow up; many chefs in high-end restaurants prefer to take a challenge in unique food. If we can switch the high-risked fish species to low-risk fish in the chosen list, can we release a little bit of pressure from the overfishing?

For example, giant isopod (Bathynomus giganteus) is a by-catch with giant scarlet prawn (Aristaeopsis edwardsiana). However, this year, because of not enough catching value of giant scarlet prawn, the vessels tended to increase its trawling times. The problem on the vessel was that there were a lot of giant isopods rather than the giant scarlet prawn. The giant isopods were the bycatch in this case. To stop the vessels working in the South China Sea and ruining the coral reef environment,  the company decides to sell giant isopod to cover the shortage of income from giant scarlet prawn. I evaluated the possibility to sell it or not.  Then, my boss and I decided the price that people will payment (about 8~17 USD for the first sale and 12.6~50 USD for the second sale).

Interestingly, this product stimulates not only people who love to take challenge in specific seafood but also people who love to collect specimen to buy the giant isopods. By selling a new product, the team wants to trigger people to rethink where the seafood is from.

Fig 1. Giant isopod (Bathynomus giganteus). There are about 19 species in this genus. Because it is a giant body size in the Isopoda and its style is very interesting, also, the Toba Aquarium in Japan has had the same genus but different species of the isopod, there are many people tend to concentrate on this news about it’s from and how the fishermen caught it.

IMO 2020

High Sulfur Fuel Oil (HSFO) is amongst the cheapest, most polluting, and most used fuel to power cargo ships. When HSFO combusts, the sulfur within it reacts with oxygen to form sulfur oxides (SOx). SOx emissions are harmful to human health, causing respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. The International Maritime Organization (IMO), which is the international agency setting global standards for shipping safety, security, and environmental performance, has mandated that on January 1, 2020, the limit for sulfur in fuel oil on ships operating outside Emission Control Areas (ECAs) will be significantly reduced. This regulation is known as IMO 2020 and it is projected to prevent 150,000 annual premature deaths around the globe.

One of my responsibilities at BSR has been to conduct research on IMO 2020, and write a report on how it will impact Clean Cargo members’ shipping and supply chain activities. The report aims to inform the shippers (who own cargo and procure carriers to move their goods) and forwarders (who organize shipments between Carriers and Shippers to provide logistics services to ensure goods arrive at the final point of distribution) how they should navigate the changing waters of international shipping, and what questions they should ask carriers (who own vessels and move goods ).

This report explores how the international maritime shipping industry is likely to comply with IMO 2020 and how they will transition. It first explains the scientific process of SOx emissions, the creation of HSFO and its prevalence in the shipping industry, why the IMO is limiting ships’ ability to emit SOx. The paper then evaluates the three options carriers have to adapt to IMO 2020: Very Low Sulfur Fuel Oils (VLSFOs), Scrubbers, or alternative means of compliance such as Liquified Natural Gas (LNG). It then analyzes the engineering, scientific, and regulatory challenges in each of these options. Next, the paper explores the potential costs of the transition as a whole, analyzes the challenges of enforcing IMO 2020. This paper concludes with why VLSFOs will be the most used path to compliance and will provide suggestions as to how the public and other members of the ocean shipping value chain can positively contribute to this transition to ensure their supply chain is complying with IMO 2020.

I would be more than happy to discuss this topic at further length so please feel free to reach out!

Final Reflection On My Summer Experience

What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?

This summer, I worked with the Environmental and Social Safeguards Team at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Washington DC. This was a unique experience given than at the time I conducted my internship, WWF had just decided to implement Environmental and Social Safeguards Policies in most of its projects to ensure any negative impacts of projects are eliminated or mitigated. As part of my internship, I supported the Safeguards team in day-to-day work and helped edit the Spanish version of the “Safeguards Integrated Policies and Procedures” document for Latin American offices. I developed training materials for workshops and webinars on the safeguards policies. Thanks to the work conducted, the safeguards policies can be implemented in WWF’s Latin American projects like “Mesoamerican Ridge to Reef Management”.

Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally.

Despite the fact that my academic background is in Law, my hands-on experience has mostly been field work. For example, I have worked with fishing communities and as a naturalist tour guide in Costa Rica. This experience helped me gain experience working in an office of a large international environmental organization. Furthermore, living in Washington DC was an invaluable experience where I made connections and learned about different organizations and the work they do in the marine conservation field. 

US Botanic Garden

 Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?

This experience helped me get out of my comfort zone, challenge myself and gain hands-on experience. I discovered that an office job can be fun when I work in a topic I feel passionate about. Even though I am not a city person, I enjoyed my time in Washington DC and learned to appreciate specific aspects of my life back in Monterey, California and on the US west coast. 

Life in the Galapagos pt. 2

September 12, 2019

It has been a month and a half since my last blog post. Since then my life has been filled with some amazing highlights, but also with some very difficult times.

I had the opportunity to accompany a patrol trip from the island of Santa Cruz to the island of Isabella. When we arrived in the bay at the southern end of Isabella, we boarded a large container ship that was about to leave for Guayaquil. Accompanied with several park rangers, a naval officer, a police and a police dog we proceeded to search the ship for any illegal substances. We were primarily looking for signs of illegal fishing; specifically shark fins. Nothing was found but it was great to see how one of these patrol inspections go.

Back in the National Park Office I had been continuing to work on the procedure’s manual with Harman. By now I had made several solid groups of friends who I would go with to surf or explore other parts of the island of Santa Cruz on the weekends.

Unfortunately, during the first week of August I received some bad news from back home. My grandfather, who had been diagnosed with cancer several months earlier, was not doing well. After talking to him on the phone I made the decision to book a flight home. I spent two weeks back in California and had the opportunity to spend time with him and my family. He sadly passed away on August 16th. I was lucky enough to have over a week with him before he passed, and I was able to be there for the funeral which took place on the 18th. I returned to Galapagos on the 22nd and was met with support and kindness from everyone I work with at the park and WildAid.        

I had been continuing to work on the manual at national park when I was abruptly told that I would be part of a large expedition going to the island of Española for 7 days. The day before we left, we were given a full orientation. The park was partnering with a group called Galapagos Conservancy to monitor and count the albatross and tortoise population. Furthermore, some of the tortoises, which had been reintroduced on the island several years ago, would be taken back to be as first members of a reintroduced population on the island of Santa Fe.

Tagging and tracking a tortoise on Española

We were split into 10 different groups to cover the entire island. I was to be in a group of three on the far side of the island primarily counting albatross, but also examining the tortoises. On the day of the trip we all boarded the National Parks largest boat, La Sierra Negra, and accompanied with a helicopter made our way to Española. When we arrived to Española my group was flown by helicopter to the far side of the island where we would be camping and collecting data for the next week. The first three days were tough as we had to hike between 10-20km everyday using machetes to cut through thick brush covered in thorns, but the experience was incredible. After day three the helicopter helped us move camps as we and dropped us much closer to the coast. Those last two days were fantastic as were constantly surrounded by albatrosses taking care of their fledglings, blue footed boobies, Galapagos Sea Lions, marine iguanas, humpback whales and a plethora of other bird species.

Upon arriving back in Santa Cruz (the island where I live) I went back to work on the procedures manual and started to help update an excel database of all the illicit activity committed by fishing and tourists boats in the Galapagos marine reserve.

The next week I had the opportunity to accompany a patrol team on a trip to la Base Bolivar, a patrol base on the far side of the island of Isabella. At this patrol base park rangers stay for two weeks at a time and monitor the surrounding marine area on a zodiac to make sure not illicit activity takes place in the area. I went with the resupply group to drop of two new park rangers and pick up the park rangers who had been stationed there. During the two-day trip we saw dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays, and whales.       

That Friday of the next weekend while eating dinner with some friends, we met a tour guide operator who works out of Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz. He said that in the morning he was going on a day-trip to an island known as North Seymour, and that he had extra spots on the trip which he would give me and a few friends for free! The next morning, we left on a bus bright and early to catch a boat on the other side of the Santa Cruz. The boat was much fancier than the National Park boats I was used to, and we were given a delicious breakfast. After a short boat ride, we arrived at North Seymour where we saw blue footed boobies, frigate birds and land iguanas. Then in the afternoon after lunch we went snorkeling with parrot fish.

The next day with a group of friends we went on another boat trip, but this time to Bartalomé. While Bartalomé is a small island, it is the most photographed place in all the Galapagos. This is due to the epic spire that sticks up next to a gorgeous beach. We woke up early and once again took a bus to the other side of Santa Cruz, where another fancy boat waited for us. We were fed breakfast and coffee and told to prepare for an angry sea. It took a bit over two hours to get to Bartalomé and the boat was rocking for much of the trip. When we arrived we ate got off the boat and proceeded to hike up to the top of the inactive volcano on the island where you get the most unbelievable views of the beach, the spire, and the large island of Santiago in the background. After the hike we got back on the boat and got ready for some snorkeling. The snorkeling was a magical as there was a group of Galapagos Penguins swimming around us and playing in the water. Galapagos Penguins are the second smallest penguin in the world and the only penguin that can be found north of the equator.

Each of these trips was unbelievable and reminded me of why it is so important that we protect the Galapagos.  

While talking to my boss Diana from WildAid about a week before we went on the trips to Seymour and Bartalomé, I mentioned to her that I am strongly considering veterinary school. She replied that WildAid also helps run a wild animal rescue hospital in Ecuador about two hours north of Guayaquil in Puerto Lopez, and that I could work there for a few weeks. This sounded like an amazing opportunity and I told her that I was extremely interested. While it didn’t seem that this was going to work out for a while, after discussing the topic more with her and other WildAid personal in Guayaquil I will be leaving the Galapagos on Wednesday to work in Puerto Lopez for my final two weeks. I am extremely excited and thankful for this opportunity and will continue to keep you all updated on how it goes.  

Midpoint reflection-Experience at EDF

Why I applied to the MIIS IEP program, I was aspired to be a environmental “communicator” that merges the gaps between science and policy, and the cultural/political barrier between different nations that from collaborating effectively in solving the common threat of climate change. I also wish to be involved in some revolutionary work regarding ocean conservation. I’ve been searching for a role that tackles all of the aspects I desire, and here comes the perfect match.

My internship at EDF combines international trade, environmental science, economics and knowledge of fishery. This is nothing more “MIIS” than this. I work under the China Ocean team as a fishery evaluation intern, and the scope of my work is incredible global. 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. 

I had been dreaming to work for Environmental Defense Fund and EDF has proven to me that it is 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. Beside doing my independent project at the office, I also listened to various webinars that EDF organized. The webinars covered a variety of environmental topics that EDF had focused on and had some ground-breaking accomplishment. 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. 

Final Reflection — Summer at EDF Boston

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.   

Final Thoughts on My Time with the Environmental Defense Fund

What did you accomplish with your host organization?  What was the impact of your work?

This summer I interned with the Environmental Defense Fund out of the San Francisco office.  I assisted the Research and Development team of the Fisheries Solutions Center with three projects.  For one project, I co-authored a white paper advising Japan’s Fisheries Agency on management strategies that could be implemented on their nearshore fisheries to comply with their new federal fisheries reform law.  For the paper, we examined case studies of similar coastal fisheries and strategies that have worked in terms of applying science-based targets to diverse fisheries and using input/output controls as well as some ideas for quota allocation and the potential for live releases of vulnerable species.  For another project, I expanded upon a database of case studies examining interactions between fisheries and aquaculture.  EDF will conduct a loop analysis on the database to determine what factors contribute to symbiotic relationships between fisheries and aquaculture and which foster negative interactions.  In addition, for my final project I developed a database which compiles information the governance and policy conditions associated with aquaculture practices by country with the goal of creating a resource to facilitate access to information about aquaculture and to potentially conduct a similar statistical analysis as the other database to glean trends between governance and good aquaculture practices.

Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally.

My experience interning with the Environmental Defense Fund was extremely beneficial to my career development.  Firstly, I had the opportunity to work directly with experts in my field of fisheries management.  EDF ensures that their interns participate in team meetings, strategy sessions, and workshops to expose us to the work that they are doing.  In these sessions, we were able to contribute our ideas to EDF projects.  I also gained experience with writing white papers directed to government officials and how to quickly compile information to develop case studies.  I also had the time to pour through the literature on fisheries and aquaculture and feel I am consequently significantly more informed on these topics than I was before the start of my internship. 

Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?

Before this summer, and prior to my time at MIIS, I primarily worked in field biology and environmental education.  This summer was my first experience with a regular 9-5 office job.  I was surprised by how normal and welcoming this office environment felt.  They really put in effort to ensure all of the interns get the most out of their experience and host many events to make us feel part of the staff and to have the opportunity to learn about all of the exciting projects that EDF is working on.  I was also surprised by how much I loved San Francisco.  I never considered myself a city person, but found that I could definitely happily live in San Francisco.