The Conclusion….

My last post ended with a cliffhanger, but after a brief hiatus, I am back to reveal the economic model and future plan for OneReef in Indonesia. After returning to Bali from the field I spent a majority of my time completing an activity report titled “Enhancing enforcement and building capacity in Dampier Strait, Raja Ampat, West Papua”. The completed report was shared with the team at OneReef, Rare Indonesia, and will be used for funding opportunities in the future. Continue reading

CBE Fellowship Reflections – From Monterey to Galway (IE) and Back.

It’s been a great summer. School has restarted and we’ve began new marine projects out in Monterey. But, back in Galway, our team came across a lot of findings and interesting data, lacuna for research, and a plethora of memories along the way. This article will be a little summary of what myself and our team found in our synthesis report, and what is next on the docket. First, take a look at a parting shot of Galway’s River Corrib on a typical Irish Summer day, (it wasn’t really cloudy most of the summer, but only the last two weeks of my stay there), the river runs out into the Galway Bay, and further, into the great Atlantic Ocean.


The Claddagh, the ring of houses around the River Corrib, and into the alway Bay.


Just coming from my side of the story, this opportunity helped me learn much, and I feel that there will be a lot more to come in the sector of deep-sea research in the future. Hopefully, I’m a part of it! It all begins with one step, and one action. These cascades into larger decisions which inevitably play a role in shaping the life each one of us live. This was but one of those steps. Join me on the next one.

All these paths we choose, no matter which direction we go, leads us to formative experiences. Sometimes they seem impossible, or barely real, but oh, dear reader, they are possible. I know that the next class of OCRM students here may read this, or may not, but mine, and my colleagues summer blogs can help to prepare for a productive summer. But for now, stay with me and read a little more about the reflection of what the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit, and yours truly, accomplished this summer.

Continue reading

Reflections of Rincon del Mar

It has been a few weeks since I returned to Monterey from a long summer spent in the mangrove forest of Rincon del Mar, Colombia. I took a risk by choosing to work on a rural first-of-its-kind conservation project for South America over a well vetted ‘big box’ agency or office job, and although it didn’t turn out how I had envisioned, I don’t regret my decision at all, especially after a few weeks of reflection. I set high expectations for myself and I wish I could say that I left Rincon with a pristine plastic-free mangrove and a thriving fishing community, but that is not the case. Instead, I received a strong dose of adversity and a taste of what it might actually take to protect our ocean and coastal resources worldwide, especially in all the areas so far away from the spotlight. In hindsight, this may have just been the most valuable experience possible – a “forward failure” some might say. It is with the utmost gratitude that I thank the Center for the Blue Economy and its donors for making this enriching opportunity possible, this summer was truly unforgettable and something that will forever inform my future work. Continue reading

Highlights from my National Marine Sanctuary Tour

People connect with national marine sanctuaries in many different ways. For example, a surfer may view a sanctuary as a recreational escape; a fisherman, their livelihood; a vacationing family, part of a tradition; a local, a place for relaxation. To explore this idea further, I set out to hear from those who engage with national marine sanctuaries. My internship with NOAA specifically took me to the five national marine sanctuaries along the West Coast in Washington and California.

At each sanctuary I spoke with fishermen, sanctuary staff, visitors, indigenous people, sanctuary volunteers, and locals to better understand how they feel and identify with the place. Afterwards, I produced an acrylic painting for each sanctuary to summarize and celebrate the species, activities, and emotions mentioned during the conversations. I decided to paint my findings, because art can showcase the ocean’s beauty, as well as capture complex stories, relationships and emotions that are otherwise difficult to express. Here are some overviews of the five sanctuaries I visited. I am still completing some of the paintings.  Continue reading

Designing Scalable Programs – Lessons for Non-Profits

Being resource constrained is the reality for nearly all organizations, regardless of industry, mission, or size. Non-profit organizations, however, face the additional challenges of being mission-driven, not cash-flow generating with big plans and small budgets. In working with a small, San Francisco-based non-profit this summer designing a strategy to scale their organization’s reach on a global scale, I learned a lot about the questions to ask and had the following thoughts:

  • Define success early, figure out how to measure progress towards it 6-ways from Sunday, and design flexible-enough programs that can be adjusted as the understanding of success changes.
  • Design IT infrastructure and technology ecosystems that will allow you to capture the information needed to measure success across geographies, manage/facilitate your communication with relevant stakeholders, and provide data to support your flexible management approaches.
  • Understand your organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses and staff accordingly. When scaling internationally, ask yourself if your organization geographic, cultural, technical prowess to be successful – and identify and (aggressively) screen local partners that will play to your weaknesses.
  • Make a timeline! Don’t worry about sticking to it – but use it as a roadmap to keep your organization on track.

Key Takeaways from a Summer Facilitating Greener Marine Transportation

Photo by Fahrul Azmi

Over the past few months, I have had an opportunity to work on projects mostly focused around enabling businesses to be more sustainable in their marine cargo supply chains. While this work was extremely interesting, the overwhelming majority of it had more to do with learning the languages of supply chain procurement, business logistics, and collaborations. Here is a brief summary of what I have learned:

  • Everybody reports up, s**t  always rolls downhill, and there are always going to be more people involved in a decision that you originally anticipated. The take away here is that it is always important to ensure that you understand the objectives of a business as well as your clients before you make a recommendation. So always start by asking questions, taking notes, and encouraging the company to bring all relevant decision-makers to the table early so that you can get the background and make the right recommendations that will resonate.
  • Businesses want to do the right thing – the right thing for their bottom line, their shareholders, their customers, their social license to operate, and the environment. In a world where there is so much chaos and opportunity for improvement, it is important to find the lowest hanging fruit first. Identifying opportunities for business to do the “right thing” that will also positively impact another one of their Key Success Factors (KSFs) and working your way up the tree by building trust and a good working relationship is the key to bringing about more meaningful change in the private sector without having to resort to policy.
  • There are two types of organizations: Organizations that want to be ahead of policy, and organizations that are compliance driven. While it is important to keep in contact with both types of organizations, it is even more important to understand that behavior change is a long and arduous process, and your time might be better served working with the cutting edge to then inform sound policy and bring the laggards along that way.
  • Understanding inter-company dynamics within a value-chain or business ecosystem is important for the purposes of coalition building. Without profound vertical and horizontal collaboration, progress in the area of efficiency gains and sustainability is virtually impossible.

Photo by Josh Spires