Final Thoughts on My Time with the Environmental Defense Fund

What did you accomplish with your host organization?  What was the impact of your work?

This summer I interned with the Environmental Defense Fund out of the San Francisco office.  I assisted the Research and Development team of the Fisheries Solutions Center with three projects.  For one project, I co-authored a white paper advising Japan’s Fisheries Agency on management strategies that could be implemented on their nearshore fisheries to comply with their new federal fisheries reform law.  For the paper, we examined case studies of similar coastal fisheries and strategies that have worked in terms of applying science-based targets to diverse fisheries and using input/output controls as well as some ideas for quota allocation and the potential for live releases of vulnerable species.  For another project, I expanded upon a database of case studies examining interactions between fisheries and aquaculture.  EDF will conduct a loop analysis on the database to determine what factors contribute to symbiotic relationships between fisheries and aquaculture and which foster negative interactions.  In addition, for my final project I developed a database which compiles information the governance and policy conditions associated with aquaculture practices by country with the goal of creating a resource to facilitate access to information about aquaculture and to potentially conduct a similar statistical analysis as the other database to glean trends between governance and good aquaculture practices.

Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally.

My experience interning with the Environmental Defense Fund was extremely beneficial to my career development.  Firstly, I had the opportunity to work directly with experts in my field of fisheries management.  EDF ensures that their interns participate in team meetings, strategy sessions, and workshops to expose us to the work that they are doing.  In these sessions, we were able to contribute our ideas to EDF projects.  I also gained experience with writing white papers directed to government officials and how to quickly compile information to develop case studies.  I also had the time to pour through the literature on fisheries and aquaculture and feel I am consequently significantly more informed on these topics than I was before the start of my internship. 

Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?

Before this summer, and prior to my time at MIIS, I primarily worked in field biology and environmental education.  This summer was my first experience with a regular 9-5 office job.  I was surprised by how normal and welcoming this office environment felt.  They really put in effort to ensure all of the interns get the most out of their experience and host many events to make us feel part of the staff and to have the opportunity to learn about all of the exciting projects that EDF is working on.  I was also surprised by how much I loved San Francisco.  I never considered myself a city person, but found that I could definitely happily live in San Francisco. 

New Projects at EDF

After a few weeks of working on my initial projects, my advisor (Rod Fujita) brought me into another project.  At the end of last year, Japan passed its first major federal fisheries reform laws in 70 years.  Their nearshore fishery is highly diverse, data-limited, and involves several gear types including a set net fishery that will be particularly difficult to regulate fairly.  Japan’s Fisheries Agency has sought EDF’s advice for potential strategies that could be utilized to manage their nearshore fisheries.  I conducted a literature review to find other case studies of nearshore fisheries management and strategies used to regulate stationary gill net fisheries that are similar to Japan’s set net fisheries.  Myself, Rod Fujita and Kazu Otsuka drafted a white paper containing our findings and advice.  It was really exciting to be directly involved in a project that will shape fisheries regulations in another country. 

Around the same time, I was able to join several members of the oceans team in a systems synthesis workshop focused on the infant industry of manufactured seafood.  Systems synthesis is a form of mapping relationships between variables that can affect an issue and how these interactions can shape the direction of possible outcomes.  The participants in the workshop each were assigned a different target group, ie the manufacturers, the consumers, the policy makers, then formed maps of outcomes.  At the end, these were combined into an infographic.  I was grateful to have been able to participate and to learn a completely new framework through which to view issues.    

I’ve also really been enjoying the social atmosphere at EDF. They are frequently having events in the office and they took all of us interns/fellows out for a hike at Point Reyes.

First Weeks Finding Fisheries/Aquaculture Solutions for the Environmental Defense Fund in San Francisco

Environmental Defense Fund
San Francisco, California
June 13th - August 23rd, 2019

This summer, I’ll be living in San Francisco doing research for the Environmental Defense Fund. After taking a week long road camping trip through the Eastern Sierra to get here, I settled in quick to life at the office. EDF’s office overlooks the financial district and allows for a stunning view of the bay. Right away I was assigned two projects.  The first project focused on interactions between fisheries and aquaculture.  It is commonly claimed that aquaculture will be a beneficial force for fishing communities that are experiencing declines in their fisheries, but there have not been many studies that focus on the interactions between these sectors.  I am reviewing the literature to find case studies showing interactions between aquaculture and fisheries to determine when this is the case and when these transitions into aquaculture have not improved livelihoods of fishing communities.  I contributed to a database categorizing elements of these case studies so that they can be compared via statistical analysis to inform a paper EDF plans to publish in the fall.   

My second project focuses on the various governance structures and conditions associated with various types of aquaculture.  I am conducting a literature review to develop case studies and to determine what factors contribute to aquaculture that is sustainable, equitably improves livelihoods, and supports people’s nutritional needs and what factors foster destructive aquaculture practices.

So far, I have really been enjoying the work environment at EDF.  The fisheries solution center ensures that everyone on the team, including the interns and research fellows, are up to date on all of the innovative projects that people are working on all over the world.  We also have weekly brown bags for all interns that give overviews of what EDF has worked on as well as some that will focus on professional development skills.  It is great and inspiring to work in a setting where everyone is passionate about their projects and willing to collaborate with each other to find the best solutions possible.  When I’m not in the office, I’ve been enjoying exploring the city and getting out for some trail runs in the Marin Headlands and areas along the Sierra. I am definitely looking forward to the rest of the summer!