Protecting the World’s Oceans Through Transparency

The state of the world’s oceans is largely problematic regardless of who you are.  An individual may wish to consume sustainable seafood or go catch enough fish to feed their family.  If I wanted to attempt to do either of these things, I would need transparent information on where I could fish or trust that the fish which I purchased at my local grocery store was properly labeled. This Summer, I have taken on two internships whose goal is to establish a comprehensive lens through which any individual or company may use to know how to sustainably interact with the world’s oceans and the resources it provides us.  

Through my position with Oceana, I am tasked with creating a Life cycle assessment of Gulf of Alaska flatfish seafood products.  The Gulf of Alaska is a fantastic source of seafood, and the islands within the gulf have the capacity to process the flatfish caught there.  However, fishery regulators catch these flatfish through bottom trawling and tend to weigh the high volume and overall value of fish that trawlers catch as an acceptable tradeoff over the environmental impacts that result.  Additionally, they ignore the environmental costs of processing and getting these fish to market; choosing to ship them to China for ‘re-processing’ which often involves mislabeling of the fish before they are sent back to the United States (Alaska included).  My job this Summer is to tell the story of the journey and estimating the costs of a particular flatfish, the Arrowtooth flounder.  So far, research has been intense and determining the true environmental cost challenging, but necessary.  

My second internship involves the creation of the Anthropocene Institute’s ProtectedSeas Navigator tool which, when completed, will provide a comprehensive guide to global marine protections.  Working alongside a legal team, GIS experts, and other individuals passionate about creating a one stop online platform for anyone who wishes to know what is allowed or prohibited in areas designated as marine protected areas on a global scale. As a guide to the regulatory seascape, the Navigator not only helps fishers and boaters on the water stay aware of rules and regulations but also helps inform the international ocean conservation community on the state and coverage of ocean protection.  As with my position with Oceana, it is easy to go down research rabbit holes, but I have an incredible support system to keep me on track to focus on the goal of enhancing the health of marine protected areas and allowing the international community to have an up-to-date resource for regulations directly from the managing authorities.  

As both positions are done remotely, I have been able to work two additional jobs in Monterey that allow me to engage with members of the community that the work I am doing through my internships could help directly.  As an avid scuba diver, being able to share my newfound knowledge has resulted in folks having access to transparent information that has allowed them to engage with the ocean we love in a sustainable and legal way which brings me great joy.  

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