Monday, June 11, 2007

The Beginning

I feel like I should write something profound for the beginning of this blog, but as I have not yet fully embarked on my adventure, it seems the best thing to do is to explain what I am doing and what I will be writing here throughout the coming year.

I will be spending next year traveling in the North Atlantic studying the cod fishery in each of the places I visit, with hopes of getting to know scientists who study the fishery, fishers who make their living from cod, and policy-makers who determine how the fishery is managed. The plan is to go to Iceland, Denmark, Scotland and England, and Newfoundland (Canada), each for three months, going to a few places in each country to get a feel for the place and for the fishery in each location.

The official description of my project, as written in my application for the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship that enables this adventure and now published online:
Hilary Palevsky
, Amherst College
Inside the Atlantic Cod Fishery: In Search of a Sustainable Future
Iceland, Denmark, United Kingdom, Canada
As cod populations in the North Atlantic dwindle from overfishing, both the fish and fishing communities’ futures are in jeopardy. For the fishery to remain viable, international coalitions of scientists, fishermen, and government regulators must develop better approaches to management. I will spend time on fishing boats and research vessels, working in laboratories, and speaking with policy advisors to see the inner workings of the fishery. I will seek new management strategies by making connections between fishery stakeholders who would not otherwise communicate.

The Watson is designed to be an independent study and travel experience for recently-graduated students, and that's what I'll be doing: traveling on my own, studying what I'm interested in under my own plans, seeing the world, immersing myself in a project that should be exciting and fascinating and fun. The requirements of the fellowship are fairly basic: stay outside the US for a year, tell us where you are and if your plans change, and come to a conference in August 2008 after getting back (where all 50 fellows get together to share what we did with the year). It's a big change from college - much more freedom and self-direction, and I think it will be good for me to have this independent adventure before deciding what to do next with my life as a college graduate.

Although my plans still seem less firm than I'd like, I will officially be leaving the US and beginning my Watson year on June 26, flying out of JFK and arriving at the Keflavic airport in Iceland at 6:30am on June 27. I will spend a few days in Reykjavik, the capitol city of Iceland and the major population center of the country, giving me some time to talk to people I've been in email contact with at the Marine Research Institute (MRI) headquarters and stop at the Danish consulate to figure out whether I can get a visa to go to Denmark directly after leaving Iceland. I will then travel north to Akureyri for two weeks, where I'll get to know the area and start doing some work at the MRI branch before heading back to Reykjavik to take part in Iceland's annual shrimp survey for two weeks, which apparently is very similar to how the cod survey is done (but during a part of the year I won't be in Iceland). I'll then head back to Akureyri for August, with general plans to do some more work with the MRI to help with an international field course on sampling in the marine environment, and then travel south to the Vestmanneyjar Islands for September. Plans once leaving Iceland are less certain (contingent, for instance, on what I learn from the Danish consulate in Reykjavik), but the people I've talked to all over have been fabulously helpful and I think my plans will work themselves out as I go.

So that's all for now - I'll be using this blog as my main way of letting people know where I am and what I'm doing. I'll try to figure out how to post pictures, and hopefully I'll have lots of interesting adventures that will make this fun to read.

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