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Ocean Sustainability through Ecotourism in the Keys

This summer, I am working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to help support their Blue Star program. Blue Star is a voluntary recognition program that partners with local charter boat operators throughout the Florida Keys. Through offerings such as scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing, Blue Star partnered operators promote responsible and safe practices for both their customers and the ecosystems within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Blue Star provides a yearly training to its partners, as well as resources, materials, and community events.

A logo of a Red flag with a diagional white stripe behin a large blue star and 3 waves vertically placed on the bottom half of the star.  The words "Blue Star Operator' is above the flag  and "Committed to Coral Conservation" is below.
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Marissa Castro in a woodlen meadow

Marissa Castro: EDF Fisheries Solutions Center

Environmental Defense Fund
San Francisco, California, USA
June 14-August 16, 2022

Marissa will be a fully embedded member of EDF’s Fishery Solutions Center. She will be supporting the development of innovative tools that will provide fishery decision makers with the ability to advance climate resilience. Projects include working with regional staff to develop and refine technical tools, conducting research and interviews to ensure science-based tools reflect best practices while promoting just and equitable fisheries, and delivering presentations and trainings to EDF Staff and other partners to facilitate uptake of EDF tools.

Kacy Cooper: California Kelp Restoration Corps, Giant Giant Kelp Restoration Project

California Kelp Restoration Corps/Giant Giant Kelp Restoration Project
June 1-September 3, 2022
Monterey, California, USA

The California Kelp Restoration Corps (CKRC) is a 501(c)3 organization in Monterey, California with the mission to protect and actively restore California’s kelp. It was incorporated in February 2022 and oversees the implementation of the Giant Giant Kelp Restoration Project at Tankers Reef (G2KR). G2KR is a citizen-science kelp restoration project in Monterey, that has been permitted to cull urchins on a two-acre project area and document the regrowth of kelp.

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Benjamin Dorfman: Blue Carbon and Equity in Climate Solutions

Environmental Defense Fund
May 25th-August 12th, 2022
San Francisco, California, USA

The goal is to determine the feasibility of quantifying blue carbon within the territorial waters of less developed countries that have contributed little to climate change yet are bearing the brunt of the adverse impacts of climate change to reduce the financial burden on these countries of complying with their climate stabilization commitments.

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Elizabeth (Liz) Hofius: Marine Managed Areas with Surfing in Mind

Save the Waves
June 7-August 31, 2022
Santa Cruz, California, USA

Liz will be assisting with two projects with the Save the Waves Coalition. The first project is aimed at informing policy and management around climate vulnerability of California’s natural surfing capital. There is a pressing need to estimate the value of California’s surfing economy, its vulnerability to climate change, and the policy choices that will maintain its value when making policy and planning for sea level rise and coastal adaptation across the state. Importantly, it is necessary to understand not just the physical changes in these natural resources, but the behavioral responses of local communities and coastal tourists to these changes, and the socioeconomic impacts that result. Liz will assist with examining and collecting data from many sources including, but not limited to, historically observed conditions and climate change vulnerability projections, existing management frameworks, and economic survey instruments.  From the valuation data, a functional benefit transfer model will be developed, by which coastal managers and policy experts can derive credible estimates of the value of surfing in alternative locations, and at the state level (Project Tasks 5 and 6 – aligned with OPC Goal 4). Integrating the economic information with estimates of surf break vulnerability will enable further exploration of key policy considerations, including potential measures to reduce vulnerability of individual surfing destinations, at both the site and locality level (Project Task 6 – OPC Goals 4 and 2), as well as policy recommendations to improve access to surf amenities to benefit disadvantaged communities.  

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Prati Rosen: Marine Carbon Dioxide Removal (mCDR)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Marine Protected Areas Center
June 6, 2022 – August 19, 2022
Silver Spring, Maryland, USA

Working with the National Marine Protected Areas Center and Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, the intern will explore if, how, and where, marine carbon dioxide removal (mCDR) could be deployed in National Marine Sanctuary waters and the authorities that sanctuaries have in regulating, permitting, and deploying such technologies. Participant will gain practical and technical experience in the application of marine carbon dioxide removal technology and planning to marine protected areas, as well as developing skills in policy applications, protected area manager engagement and leadership support.

Molly Ryan: Climate Change and Human Rights in Vanuatu

Permanent Mission of Vanuatu to the United Nations
June 13-September 5, 2022
New York, New York, USA

Vanuatu has announced its intentions to take on the campaign to seek an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice on the issue of climate change and human rights, specifically to seek clarification of the legal duties of large emitters of greenhouse gases with respect to present and future generations. The campaign seeks to put this as a resolution to the United Nations General Assembly where all countries will be asked to vote on the Vanuatu proposal. Seeing greater leadership from states in supporting this resolution will be crucial for success. The Fellow will assist the Vanuatu legal and communications team on this campaign.

Megan Spitzer: Promoting Sustainable Diving and Fishing in the Florida Keys

NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
May 30-August 16, 2022
Key Largo, Florida, USA

Megan is working with Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to conduct a Needs Based Assessment of their Blue Star Program. Blue Star partners with local diving and fishing operators in order to implement more sustainable practices and education through their certification voluntary recognition program. Megan will be conducting interviews with both Sanctuary staff and partnering operators in order to evaluate the program and make any recommendations for its continued success.

Madison Springfield: Empowering youth to become ocean stewards

The Wahine Project
June 6th- August 12th, 2022
Sand City, California, USA

The Wahine Project is a non-profit based in Monterey Bay, CA which seeks to inspire a global response that eliminates the barriers preventing a diversity of youth from a personal relationship with the ocean and with one another. This summer, Maddy will work as the Education Outreach Coordinator and will develop and design a marine education curriculum for grades 2-12 to be used during camp programming. Maddy will also implement and teach the curriculum with the campers. Marine lessons will be presented to every age group during the week and topics will range from climate change’s impact on the ocean, to plastic pollution, to marine biology. The overall goal of this summer project is to increase camp participants’ awareness of the problems impacting the ocean, ways to address these problems, and empower them to become ocean stewards in their own lives. The Education Outreach Coordinator will also be a camp instructor, working with the campers in the ocean through various ocean sports including surfing, boogie boarding, and more.

Madeline Warner: Turning the tide on plastics by amplifying youth voices

Plastic Tides
June 13, 2022 – August 26, 2022

Plastic Tides uses online environmental education campaigns to educate the global community and empower youth to take action against the plastic crisis. Plastic Tides currently maintains an active presence on six accounts across five different social media platforms, providing reliable information and communicating complex topics in environmental science and ecology – free of charge – to a global audience, with minimal barriers to access. Plastic Tides has established its name as a trusted educational outlet and resource for an online community of over fifty thousand followers, and will continue to expand its reach as the organization grows. In particular, the Plastic Tides Global Youth Mentor (GYM) Program connects 12-18 year old Youth Leaders with Mentors from around the world, developing year-long projects to create lasting change in their communities.

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Emily Zimmerman: exposing illegally harvested seafood in traceable supply chains

Virgil Group
June 20-September 16, 2022
Washington, DC, USA

Student will support the development of Virgil Group’s risk analytics software to detect illegally harvested seafood in traceable supply chains. The primary responsibility of this project is the location and characterization of hard-to-find datasets associated with fisheries in international waters or authorized by key market nations. Secondarily, the student may support the development of customer-facing materials to describe SeafoodCheck and attend meetings with internal and external partners. Finally, as availability and capacity permits, student may have the opportunity to conduct policy analysis on seafood traceability regulations in the US and abroad for Virgil Group’s consultancy clients.