Our Lab, Unlocked!

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Our Lab, Unlocked!

Last Thursday, we had the honor of opening our metaphorical lab doors to a select audience of friends, community, and alums of the UW's College of the Environment. We were among three lab groups from the College invited to present our work on the theme of 'Climate and Food.' While we may not have a physical lab filled with beakers and pipettes, we were excited to present some of our work with a wider audience.

Under the overarching title of "Fishing for Justice, Nutrition, and Wellbeing in a Changing Climate," we chose to highlight our lab's work through the presentation of three student-led projects. Lily presented her work on the importance of East Africa's octopus fishery to local livelihoods and food security. She even exhorted the audience to try (sustainably sourced!) octopus soup as an aphrodisiac. 

Brittany, Kadie, Henry, and Emily - presenting their capstone project - spoke about Seattle's potential for national, and perhaps even global, leadership in the seafood sustainability movement. Zach - assisted by MARINA lab alum Jack Cheney - outlined the objective of our new Population Health Initiative grant piloting ways to get underutilized fish species in the California current ecosystem to low-income coastal communities with a need for seafood. 

With such a unique opportunity to engage local community members, Eddie emphasized our lab’s overall mission of conducting research and policy analysis related to the fair allocation of benefits from well-managed coastal ecosystems. He also stressed the importance of our connections with resource users and policy makers, the applied and interdisciplinary nature of our work, and the potential of our lab members to become key influencers in future environment and development policy arenas.

Here are some fun photos of our lab preparing for the presentation:

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Towards an Integrative Framework for Local Environmental Stewardship

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Towards an Integrative Framework for Local Environmental Stewardship

Last week was a busy time for the Lab. In addition to the Cinner et. al. paper published in Nature Climate Science, Eddie Allison and PhD student Hannah Bassett co-authored a paper led by Nathan Bennett entitled Environmental Stewardship: A Conceptual Review and Analytical Framework

The paper deepens the concept of stewardship by presenting a comprehensive definition of environmental stewardship and a framework to better understand conditions that lead to successful stewardship in different contexts. To date, there has been extensive attention and investment in local environmental stewardship with regard to conservation and environmental management policies and programs. However, little attention has gone into understanding the conditions that lead to successful stewardship efforts and the nature of activities that can support, enable or facilitate stewardship maintenance or development. Stewardship, as the authors define it, hinges on three central elements - actors, motivations, and capacity. 

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This figure from the paper shows the analytical framework for environmental stewardship and it's many elements. Asterisks (*) mark leverage points where strategic interventions – via government policies, NGO programs, market mechanisms or other initiatives at a range of scales – can be applied to support or promote local environmental stewardship efforts. 

This paper was published open access, so is available to everyone for free, here!

 

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Koehn and Allison Launch Inaugural Research Grant

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Koehn and Allison Launch Inaugural Research Grant

This fall, PhD Student Zach Koehn and Eddie Allison, along with faculty from the School of Public Health and the School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences, were selected to lead one of 5 inaugural pilot grants from the University of Washington’s Population Health Initiative. The Initiative encourages interdisciplinary problem solving at the intersection of human health, environmental resilience and socioeconomic equity. The grant will support Zach’s PhD research linking fisheries and food systems to address diet-based public health issues facing US West Coast communities.

Selected from a pool of more than 60 projects, this project will evaluate whether low-value or bycaught fish can enter local markets in areas with low income or low access to affordable healthy foods. On the project, Koehn noted "in low-income coastal populations, access and availability of healthy foods can be low, and there is a high incentive for people to substitute towards more affordable, but energy-dense nutrient poor food. Cost-effective bycaught species can provide a competitive alternative particularly for rural coastal communities where fishery landings are high. Unfortunately, there is little guidance on how fishery managers and related institutions can operationalize these goals towards equitable population health outcomes, particularly for tribes or low income and diaspora populations with traditional reliance on seafood." 

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Five community characteristics that increase adaptive capacity in the face of climate change

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Five community characteristics that increase adaptive capacity in the face of climate change

This past week, Professor Allison co-authored a new paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change. 

The paper, led by Josh Cinner, proposes an approach to increasing tropical coastal communities' ability to adapt to climate change through five domains. While governments, development agencies, and civil society have made substantial investments in minimizing the impact of climate change on human well-being, to date, these investments have been targeted towards a narrow understanding of adaptive capacity. 

Below are the five key community characteristics that Professor Allison and co-authors found increase adaptive capacity of communities. Excerpts beside each characteristic are quotes from the authors originally included in a news piece covering the paper in Science Daily:

  1. Access to assets to draw upon in times of need. "These assets can include household wealth or public goods such as health services, but they need to be developed in ways that don't exacerbate existing inequalities";
  2. Flexibility to change. "Having some flexibility can enable people to minimise losses or even take advantage of climate-related change," said Prof. Eddie Allison... "For example, fishers might need to change fishing grounds or target new species."
  3. Knowledge of climate change effects and adaptation options. "People need to learn about new techniques and strategies that can help them cope with changing circumstances," said Prof. Katrina Brown at the University of Exeter, UK.
  4. Strong social relationships. "The formal and informal relationships that people have with each other and their communities can help them deal with change by providing social support and access to both knowledge and resources," said Prof. Cinner.
  5. Empowerment to make choices for themselves. "We also need to ensure that people have the ability to determine what is right for them," said Prof. Brown."

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Farquhar attends the World Youth Forum

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Farquhar attends the World Youth Forum

Last November, Sam attended the World Youth Forum in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. This is an international conference hosted by the Egyptian government to bring together young people to discuss pressing global issues such as terrorism, climate change, education, disease, refugees, and resource security. 

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