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Farquhar attends Human Sea Conference at University of Nantes, France (Oct 15-17)

Sam Farquhar presented work with coauthor Maria Santos of the New University of Lisbon regarding  innovative ways synergy can be promoted and streamlined between the conservation of marine living resources and the conservation of  nonliving (cultural) resources through the framework of international commitments like the Aichi Targets and Sustainable Development Goals. Sam received a $750 award from the College of the Environment to attend this meeting.

 Sam speaking at the Human Sea Conference

Sam speaking at the Human Sea Conference

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Summer research round-up: Sam Farquhar

 Sam on a hike in Italy

Sam on a hike in Italy

This summer has been a blur. For seven weeks, I found myself in Quebec City studying French alongside Canadian fisheries policy. I was primarily exploring Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) innovative decision to count fisheries closures as the first ‘other effective area-based conservation measure’ (or OECM). OECMs are areas in which biodiversity conservation is not the the primary objective, but still occurs as a result of the management in place. For example, some military restricted areas, protected archaeological sites, and spiritual areas are shown to have high biodiversity values even though that was not the main goal of the establishment of these areas. OECMs will be included as a type of protected area in the future highlighting their potential to increase ecological habitat representation and connectivity, and recognizing the diversity of stakeholders who contribute to conservation areas.

When Canada counted their fisheries closures as OECMs, they also counted them towards their national conservation goals sparking some debate. Conservationists argued that fisheries closures couldn’t be counted as protected areas, because the areas are not implemented for the long term and allow some use.  Luckily, while in Quebec, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Amber Himes-Cornell, a SMEA affiliate professor and principal investigator of OECMS for the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Between meeting with Dr. Himes-Cornell and members of DFO in Montreal, I learned a lot more about the arguments surrounding OECMs. A main factor that was emphasized to me was that there is very little guidance available for defining what an OECM is and determining how to assess it.

At the same time I was in Montreal, the Convention of Biological Diversity’s 22nd Subsidiary Body on Scientific,Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) Meeting was occurring and OECMs happened to be an agenda item. It was at this meeting that an official definition for OECMs was actually drafted. Going forward, this definition, along with associated recommendations and criteria for identifying OECMs, will be reviewed and possibly adopted at the next Conference of the Parties (COP) meeting this November.

From Canada, I went directly to Rome to continue my work on OECMs under the supervision of Dr. Himes-Cornell. Armed with an officially drafted OECMs definition, recommendations, and criteria for assessing and identifying,, I studied the implications, and logistics of  counting OECMs towards global conservation goals (namely, 10% of the oceans protected by 2020). Additionally, I worked to interpret the criteria set forth at the SBSTTA meeting in order to clarify what an OECM is and what it is not. I even had the pleasure of grabbing a beer with Eddie while he was visiting the FAO.

Overall, this has been an incredibly memorable summer. I look forward to taking everything I have learned and writing my thesis upon my return to Seattle!

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Summer research round-up: Tressa Arbow

  Helping Junior Leaders conduct intertidal zone surveys at Golden Gardens beach. Photo by Maile Sullivan, Washington Sea Grant.

Helping Junior Leaders conduct intertidal zone surveys at Golden Gardens beach. Photo by Maile Sullivan, Washington Sea Grant.

This summer I divided my time between full-time, intensive Swahili language studies for my Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS), my role as NOAA Science Camp Coordinator for Washington Sea Grant, and preliminary data collection for my thesis.

Although my thesis has a local focus (Washington), I’m ultimately hoping to apply my experience and the research skills I’m gaining in an international setting. My primary area of interest is East Africa, so I was very excited to be awarded both the Summer and Academic Year FLAS for Swahili. I’ll continue my Swahili classes throughout my second year at SMEA and hopefully be positioned to work in the region after graduation.

NOAA Science Camp is a two-week long day camp for middle and high school students hosted by NOAA and facilitated by Washington Sea Grant. It’s an amazing opportunity for students to get hands-on experience with real NOAA scientists in their offices and meet other kids who are interested in STEM. For the last several months, I’ve been consulting with the education team at Washington Sea Grant to fine-tune their camp evaluation tools, and I was excited to help them move that initiative forward during my third year of involvement with the camp this summer.

For my thesis, I attended and observed two working group meetings for the Washington Maritime BLUE task force initiative within the Department of Commerce. In these meetings, task force members discussed issues and aspirations for the Maritime BLUE initiative ranging from decarbonizing ferries to barriers to workforce equity. I’m excited to be able to use these discussions as a jumping-off point for my qualitative thesis research on equity in the maritime industry.

It was certainly a busy summer, but I made sure to get in some down time as well! My husband and I did a weekend in Friday Harbor and a Granite Falls camping trip with friends, hiked Mt. Pilchuck, spent a week on the East Coast, and had a long weekend with family in Hayden Lake, Idaho. Somehow three summer months have flown by and I’m excited to be back for my second year in SMEA!

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The environmental cost of animal source foods

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The environmental cost of animal source foods

Following work conducted as part of her Master’s thesis, this past June, Teressa co-published a paper with Ray Hilborn titled “The environmental cost of animal source foods” in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. This meta-analysis used life cycle assessment (LCA) as a tool for providing insights into which animal food choices are the most environmentally responsible by quantifiably measuring the environmental impacts (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions) of a production system from a cradle to grave perspective. Calculated results from 148 LCA studies were compared, focusing on livestock production, aquaculture, and capture fisheries. The analysis highlighted beef production and catfish farming as the systems with the highest greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, and potential for eutrophication and acidification.

Washingtonians may find it unsurprising that non-fed aquaculture production, particularly of mollusk species, were identified as having the lowest cost to the environment due to their low energy and resource demands. Small pelagic fisheries also have low costs as a result of capture efficiency. The purpose of this paper was to highlight environmentally friendly food systems, discuss the need for further research into reducing environmental impacts, and to stimulate a conversation on how we define ‘sustainability’.

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