Making the case for high seas protection through a cultural heritage lens.

This summer I have been working with the Coral Reefs of the High Seas Coalition, a group of expert scientists, policy-makers, lawyers, and others advocating for the creation of a High Seas Treaty to protect critical marine habitat outside of national jurisdiction. Specifically, my work has focused on two series of seamounts between Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and the coast of Chile called the Salas y Gómez and Nazca Ridges. Both ridges are predominantly outside of national jurisdiction and therefore have no overarching management regime that could create a Marine Protected Area (MPAs) around these ecologically and biologically significant marine areas.

With the support of my awesome supervisor, Dr. Daniel Wagner, I have been compiling information on the cultural heritage of the area to further support future protections. The majority of written advocacy materials calling for the creation of MPAs focus on the biological and/or ecological importance of the area and less has been written about the historical or cultural significance. Working with Dr. Wagner, I contributed to and edited a paper detailing the cultural history of the proposed high seas MPA area that is being submitted to the journal Marine Policy. I have been listed as a co-author, this will be my first published paper, once accepted. I am creating a factsheet and storyboarding a 2-minute informational video based on the paper. I have also collected and organized pertinent scientific papers for a literature review on migratory pathways and connectivity through the Salas y Gómez and Nazca Ridges.

Next month I will be helping Dr. Wagner plan and coordinate a scientific expedition to the Salas y Gómez and Nazca Ridges which will take place in February 2022 (if the pandemic allows.) The expedition will focus on gaining never-before-seen footages of the shallower seamounts and the life that they support. I have been lobbying to get myself on that expedition but that remains to be seen!

My internship has been fun, fulfilling, and interesting. I am so grateful to work on such an impactful project with a group of experts such as the Coral Reefs of the High Seas coalition.

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