Marine Biotech, Tuna Fishing, and Turbines

Well it has certainly been a busy month in the worlds of marine bioprospecting, tuna management, and offshore wind development! I find myself working near constantly, but being able to work on such cutting edge policy topics makes it all absolutely worth it.

For my work with the World Wildlife Fund, I’ve embarked on a new research project on marine bioprospecting and the sustainable use of marine genetic resources beyond national jurisdiction. Marine bioprospecting is a relatively new subset of the biotech industry that has scientists around the world scouring the oceans for genes that can produce valuable biochemical compounds to be used in creating new pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food products, and industrial chemicals. While this often life-saving work is very valuable to human society, it also is largely both ungoverned and has unknown impacts on ocean conservation impacts. It’s a major part of the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction treaty negotiations and will only increase with the rise of new technologies such as CRISPR and AI, so the WWF Oceans team has a vested interest in being informed on and prepared to discuss this complex field with policymakers. I’ve assisted them in this effort through writing policy briefings and analyses on the current state and future of marine bioprospecting, with a particular focus on protecting areas like the Arctic Ocean and deep sea that exist beyond national jurisdiction but are often also where the most valuable marine genes are found.

I’ve also continued my work with WWF on international tuna fisheries management. I’ve been preparing policy briefings and analyses for fisheries staff both in DC and in Ecuador on the upcoming Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission annual meeting. A large part of my analyses for this project has focused on the regulation of Fish Aggregating Devices and the use of Electronic Monitoring Systems on the Pacific tropical tuna fleet, as well as how to best channel funding for research on artisanal shark fisheries in Central America. I’m proud to contribute to work WWF is doing to ensure that we can continue fishing for and enjoying tropical tuna for a long time to come, although my brain is certainly tired after reading so many management proposals from various countries who are part of the IATTC.

My second internship, with the Pacific Ocean Energy Trust, is going great too! Through review of federal energy agency research on offshore wind development and European legislation on the industry, as well as through extensive interviews with members of the ocean energy industry, I’ve been able to begin writing a white paper on the policies needed to further expedite development of offshore wind energy on the US West Coast, which should be ready by the end of August.

Pictured above is my deskmate Scooter. I’m always jealous of how much relaxation time he has!!

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