Vol. 37, No. 1, January 2017
Alaska Knauss Fellows Have Positions in Washington DC
Two Alaska Sea Grant–sponsored Knauss Marine Policy Fellows received their one-year assignments in the nation’s capital. Charlotte Regula-Whitefield will assist in US Senator Lisa Murkowski’s office as a legislative fellow, and Kelly Cates will work as an executive fellow in the NOAA Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs. They will start their fellowships on February 1, 2017.
Regula-Whitefield earned her PhD in marine biology from the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences in fall 2016. During her dissertation research she worked with Alaska dive fishery associations for six years, developing a sea cucumber aquaculture program. She said one of the reasons she applied for the Knauss Fellowship was to learn how to tackle policy issues such as working with state and federal managers and legislative bodies, in order to move forward with culturing initiatives.
Regula-Whitefield looks forward to working on issues pertaining to Alaska marine natural resources in Washington DC. “I would like to be a marine scientist who is also a liaison to managers and policy-makers. These skills would be beneficial to me as I continue to work toward my career goal of developing multidisciplinary research alongside industry, community, and resource partners,” she said.
Kelly Cates expects to complete her MS in fisheries at UAF in 2017. She has been studying humpback whales to create baseline data for future management decisions. “I applied for the Knauss fellowship in an effort to better communicate science… It is my belief that with a better idea on how policy is created, I can help facilitate conversations that lead to more science-based political decisions,” she said.
The two Alaskans are in a select group of 65 fellows nominated by Sea Grant programs nationwide. The one-year fellowship was established in 1979 to provide an educational opportunity for students interested in marine resources and national policy decisions. The experience can serve as a springboard to related careers.
Wide Range of State Fellowship Opportunities Offered
The Alaska Sea Grant State Fellowship Program is offering a broad range of fellowship positions for 2017–2018, with eight host agencies. Students are invited to apply for the Alaska fellowship positions by February 24, 2017. Three or more fellows will be accepted.
The Alaska Sea Grant State Fellowship Program provides professional opportunities for soon-to-graduate or recently finished graduate students in science or policy. Fellows acquire on-the-job professional experience in marine resource programs in Alaska. The program matches fellows with hosts in Alaska-based state or federal agencies for a 12-month paid fellowship.
Hosts offering positions this year are Alaska Department of Fish and Game, US Geological Survey, two NOAA offices, North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and National Park Service. In addition, the North Pacific Research Board/US Fish and Wildlife Service Landscape Conservation Cooperative and the Office of the Governor are seeking fellows. Students who are accepted for the program will interview with agencies in spring 2017 to find the best fit. The fellowships will begin in summer or fall 2017.
Currently Jane Sullivan, Sarah Apsens, and Jennifer Marsh are working as Alaska Sea Grant State Fellows in Anchorage and Juneau, placed at NMFS and the National Park Service. Matt Robinson, one of the first Alaska Sea Grant State Fellows said recently, “I cannot begin to express how much this experience is going to help my career. It put me on the front line of marine policy development, and I certainly developed the skills necessary to succeed in this field.”
Pacific Residents Share Climate Impacts on Their Communities
Several Alaskans gave presentations on coastal community risk at the Symposium on Climate Displacement, Migration, and Relocation in Hawaiʻi in December. The meeting—which attracted nearly 100 people—took place in Honolulu December 13–14. The symposium highlighted how climate change is influencing displacement of Pacific people, especially in Alaska and the Marshall Islands.
Organizers and funders for the symposium include Alaska Sea Grant, Hawaiʻi Sea Grant, and the University of Hawaiʻi Law School. UAF graduate student Erin Shew, a climate preparedness fellow and Knauss Marine Policy Fellow at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, was a key organizer of the event.
The first sessions featured panelists from the Alaska communities of Shishmaref, Kivalina, and Unalakleet, who described erosion caused by severe fall storms in the absence of shore-fast ice. In Alaska, communities most at risk are located on spits or barrier islands that may be disappearing. Some of the most severe impacts are being seen in the Marshall Islands where climate change is influencing access to the subsistence food supply. The Marshall Islands sit an average of five feet above sea level.
Other sessions at the symposium were dedicated to the legal framework for relocation at the state, national, and international level. The major questions surrounded who is responsible for relocating communities that are impacted by climate change. In some parts of the Pacific, community residents are planning their move and even buying land in other Pacific nations to resettle their populations, as sea level rise is expected to overtake their islands in the next century.
“Residents of coastal communities and islands in the Pacific are experiencing a changing climate in real time and it’s already impacting their health, safety, and way of life,” said Davin Holen, Alaska Sea Grant coastal community resilience specialist. “The question now is, how do we give coastal communities and island peoples in the Pacific the tools and the assistance they need in preparing their communities to deal with the challenges of today, and to plan sustainable communities for their children and grandchildren?”
During workshops at the symposium, small groups discussed how to engage communities to plan for future displacement, migration, and relocation. This was followed by how to talk to policy makers, funders, and the public about why it’s important to engage residents now. The climate is expected to gradually become more extreme in the Pacific in the next century, and rising sea levels will continue to impact coastal communities and may overtake some nations.
Robin Bronen, Alaska Institute for Justice, moderated a panel on human mobility and climate change.” It was very meaningful for all of us and inspires me to continue to our work to design and implement a relocation institutional framework,” said Bronen.
Training the Alaska Seafood Workforce
As part of its mission to support and develop the state’s fishing and seafood processing industries, Alaska Sea Grant will offer educational and training opportunities in February and March. The courses are on direct marketing, process improvement, and skills to avoid foodborne illnesses.
Commercial fishermen can enroll in an online interactive course to learn how to sell their catch directly to buyers like restaurants and fish markets. The five-session direct marketing course will be offered February 13–27, 2017.
Seafood processing employees, and even home canners, can sign up for classes in Kodiak. The two-day Better Process Control School, offered February 15–17, will teach principles of thermal processing, equipment requirements, container evaluation, and recordkeeping for glass jars and cans.
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) will be taught February 13–14 in Kodiak and March 22–23 in Anchorage. Seafood processing employees will learn how to control biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw fish or processed seafood products.
“These courses are designed to offer key skills to those engaged in the business of fishing, preparing seafood, and selling it,” said Alaska Sea Grant director Paula Cullenberg. “Commercial fishing and seafood processing are Alaska’s largest private employer, providing jobs for tens of thousands of people and helping to sustain the economies of many coastal communities. We are pleased to offer educational tools to help grow this vital Alaska industry.”