Anthropocene Institute’s ProtectedSeas Program
What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?
Working for the Anthropocene Institute’s ProtectedSeas program allowed me to help the extraordinary legal team with compiling a database of the legal framework that individual marine protected areas have instituted all over the world. From Uruguay to South Georgia, I have explored the marine protected area legislation and management plans put in place to protect and conserve the planet’s precious biodiversity. Working on this project has given me such a unique opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of how various countries govern and manage marine protected areas. The high seas mapper tool that will be the final product of our work should be incredibly helpful for a large variety of people, businesses, institutions, and various MPA stakeholders around the world.
Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally?
I feel much more confident in my research skills as well as recognizing when to ask for help. Being able to learn about the nitty gritty details of marine protected area legislation also gave me the skills to understand how various governmental institutions work together, how different pieces of legislation often overlap to ensure protection for marine resources, and what is lacking in terms of global marine protected area legislation.
Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?
I found that I truly appreciate having structured deadlines and specific goals to achieve. Additionally, I was able to build a great list of resources and tools to do research going forward. What really stuck out to me was just how variable each country’s legislation on marine protected areas are. Marine resources that have been determined to need protecting truly need an ecosystem-based approach as well as strong implementation, enforcement, and monitoring techniques. Those that had management plans or incorporated marine spatial planning were often more effective at protecting the marine area which it set out to defend. Lastly, I loved working with a small group of people on a project that gave me the sense of having real purpose in life.
And for those moments when burnout creeps in, I found jumping in the ocean to be soul cleansing as well as a welcome reminder of what we are working to protect!