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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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Karen attends the 2018 Seafood Summit

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Karen attends the 2018 Seafood Summit

This past June, Karen attended the 2018 Seafood Summit in Barcelona as one of 5 Seafood Scholars. The Summit brings together global representatives from the seafood industry with leaders from the conservation community, academia, and government. The goal of the Summit is to define success and advance solutions in sustainable seafood by fostering dialogue and partnerships that lead to a seafood marketplace that is environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable. Supported by SeaWeb, Karen was able to attend the 18th Seafood Summit to share lessons learned from her Master’s work on fishery improvement projects, as well as, learn about the work of global fisheries experts. This year, one of the biggest topics of discussion was how to incorporate social responsibility into the seafood sector, with emphasis on how worker voices are a key element of building socially responsible seafood supply chains.

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Eddie spends summer at the Lancaster Environment Center

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Eddie spends summer at the Lancaster Environment Center

For a month this summer, Eddie has been a Distinguished Visitor with the Lancaster Environment Center (LEC) at Lancaster University in the UK, with Drs Christina Hicks and Nick Graham, pictured above enjoying an impromptu after-work picnic, overlooking the Morecambe Bay estuary. Together, they have been working on publications and research proposals at the intersection between fisheries, nutrition and health. Eddie also gave a talk on ‘Fishing for Nutrition’ at LEC on July 4th, and on July 11th was interviewed about waste in fish value chains on BBC World Service Radio’s ‘Newsday’ program. 

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