There and Back Again

And just like that, we’ve reached the dog days of summer! I say this in every post (and every check in meeting I had during my internship), but I really can’t believe how fast time has just flown by. I’ve gone running out the door, off on my new adventure and made it all the way to the end with a whole set of deliverables, skills, and new memories under my belt. And here I am now, ready to sit and reflect on the adventure I’ve had.

Enjoying the “outdoor office” with my “coworker”

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

EDF offered me the opportunity to create a really diverse portfolio of deliverables.

The first project I completed was a list of companies that specialize in plant-based seafood and lab grown fish. This list of companies, points of contact for the organization, and specialization of the organization served as the base for further research into the impact of cellular seafood on wild catch fisheries.

In the context of the greater environmental justice discussion, I did some basic research using news articles and nonprofit and university webpages to select environmental justice issues in fisheries that are the most socially prevalent. This list and the subsequent literature review then went to another intern who was able to synthesize the research, reach out to important recurring authors, and create a memo on the topic to guide further discussions.

The vast majority of my work was with the Japan Support Team. Japan recently updated the national fisheries law, the biggest overhaul in fisheries policy in over 70 years. I assisted the team working on the first stage of implementation and evaluation. I created an excel document that put together the metrics, goals, laws and ordinances, along with the current status of progress reports to make an evaluation document. Based on the evaluation document and the progress report, as well as some conversations with the Japan team, I analyzed the major goals of the policy and highlighted places in the policy where there were gaps in the language or structure that would make implementation difficult. These documents were then used for conversations with the Japan Team, who came with similar documents from their perspective.

One of the major gaps in goals and objectives for the policy that the japan Team was interested in integrating into implementation was adaptation and recognition of climate change and climate related impacts on sustainability and the future of fisheries. For this I did research and created a climate profile for Japan. This highlighted projected climate impacts on the ocean and how it would affect several key fisheries.

Because the new policy calls for more data to be collected and with growing concerns about traceability and stock sustainability, Japan’s distant water long line fleet was interested in learning more about electronic monitoring – specifically the use of video cameras on board. I did research on the best practices around the world in similar fleets, as well as the standards for pilots run in the same RFMO jurisdiction that Japan falls under. This information is going to be used in the discussion with the fleet on starting a pilot program.

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

This internship has been one of the greatest boons in my professional experience so far. Especially because of covid-19 and the need to work remotely, I think this experience fundamentally changed how confident I am in my ability to work independently, manage my time wisely, and reach out and ask for help or guidance. EDF and my supervisors created a particularly good environment as we were all learning to navigate and manage the current circumstances, one where I felt comfortable asking for help, asking for more time, or asking to add or reduce the number of projects I was working on. Because of this I think I have vastly improved not just how I work, but also the quality of work I put out. I am more confident asking for help or additional resources much earlier in a project and producing much better content. I had the opportunity to really put my research and writing skills to the test, as well as my communication skills. It has also taught me that it’s absolutely okay to take a break. Sometimes you need to step away from work and throw the ball for your dog or trim your tomato plants; and often those breaks are exactly what you need to stay human when you have 24 hours of research done and another 24 ahead of you.

Personally, this experience has made me more confident in myself in general. Success in networking, overcoming anxiety about asking for help, and creating deliverables that were useful for the team were all experiences that validate how I view myself both in and out of my work environment. I was also able to make some great connections amongst my intern cohort. EDF did an awesome job maintaining the intern experience and hosting trivia nights, intern meet and greets, and other good mingling events so everyone could make new friends.

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

I think more than anything else, I was surprised by how much this experience catalyzed my decision about career paths. I felt very wishy-washy and unsure going in that this is was something I was seriously interested in, and now I feel like I’ve been able to cross off places I wasn’t interested and focus on where I was interested. Policy evaluation and implementation didn’t sound like the fun and exciting part of the process – I was really interested in the policy writing and overhauling part; now I have a new perspective on implementation and would love to be a part of policy implementation and evaluation teams. It’s especially great because the policy cycle isn’t a closed loop – there is policy design, writing, end editing in the process of implementation and evaluation.

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