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."