Thursday, October 31, 2013

APPLY NOW for the 2014-2015 Great Lakes Commission-Sea Grant Fellowship

Check out this announcement for the 2014-2015 Great Lakes Commission-Sea Grant Fellowship!  Eligible applicants include students in a graduate or professional degree program in a marine or aquatic-related field at a U.S. accredited institution of higher education.

The fellow will work with a dynamic binational compact agency that works to promote environmental quality and sustainable development of the Great Lakes region. Projects will involve research coordination and policy analysis.

For more information and how to apply, see the Michigan Sea Grant fellowship page or the
GLC fellowship page, or contact:

Ali Stevens
Research Assistant and Fellowship Contact
Michigan Sea Grant
(734) 764-0274

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

An Interview with Former NOAA Coastal Management Fellow and University of Michigan-SNRE Graduate, Zach Hecht-Leavitt

Why did you pursue the NOAA Coastal Management Fellowship? 

Zach was interested in applying data management/analysis skills to public, coastal issues. He was particularly excited by the project itself (marine spatial planning), as well as the opportunity to work with former NOAA colleagues to some extent.

What was your position and what did you work on as a fellow?

Zach helped NY state create statistical models of marine species distributions in its offshore planning area to "fill in the gaps" they had in fish, marine mammal, and seabird datasets. He then helped put the results in a broader policy context.

How did you benefit from the fellowship and what was most rewarding? 

Zach enjoyed learning new skills (spatial statistics, computer programming, GIS) and communicating the results to managers and the public.

What during your graduate education best prepared you for your fellowship? 

Specific coursework at the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) at U of M, including: Analysis and Modeling of Ecological Data (Ines Ibanez), GIS and Landscape Models (Dan Brown), and many of the Aquatic Sciences classes (Biology and Ecology of Fishes, etc.) for general background knowledge helped prepare Zach for success in his fellowship.

What do you wish you had done during your graduate education that would have assisted you with your position? 

Zach believes that he probably should have learned Python, or taken learning R more seriously. He says that even if you don't think of yourself as a technical/computer person, having at least a basic knowledge of computer programming will make your life much easier. Zach says the reality is that we spend most of our time in front of a computer, so, having it do more work for you frees you to use your brain more creatively, and spend less time pointing and clicking.

Where are you now? 

Today, Zach is working for a private oceanography consulting firm, doing mostly oil spill impact modeling.

What do you enjoy most about your career? 

Zach likes helping clients understand their modeling process and the results. He also enjoys coding, to some degree.

Advice for new fellows?

Zach says to try to remain optimistic and proactive. He says the fellowship is what you make of it, and, despite the impression you may get, your project may be very nebulous and your role undefined. He suggests viewing this as an opportunity to create your own position, rather than feeling frustrated that there is no place for you.

Recommendations for prospective candidates' applications?

Zach definitely recommends becoming very familiar with the state projects when they are posted online. He suggests tailoring your application to address specific state needs. For your selection week presentation, Zach says don't be afraid to come out swinging and make it clear how you fit with your favorite project(s).

Zach Hecht-Leavitt
NOAA Coastal Management Fellow
(8/2011 – 8/2013)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

On the Road with a Knauss Fellowship

            Fish might be one of the last truly wild animals that we hunt for food.  Because some of the most important fish stocks cross international lines or reside in the high seas, they must be managed by groups of nations acting collectively to preserve them for future generations.

As a Knauss Fellow in the Office of Marine Conservation at the Department of State, I recently joined U.S. delegations that traveled to separate fishery negotiations in Fukuoka, Japan and Kaohsiung, Taiwan.  The Department of State works closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, other agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard, and stakeholders such as the fishing industry and environmental organizations to formulate U.S. policy on shared fish stocks.

International law provides a framework for nations to form regional fishery management organizations, or RFMOs.  RFMOs are generally made up of nations that have an interest in shared management and conservation of fish stocks, either because their coastal waters are home to the fish of interest during at least a portion of their lifecycles or they are so-called distant water fishing nations, whose fleets might travel many miles to harvest the stocks.

At RFMO negotiations, delegations receive presentations on the latest scientific information, and try to develop a common understanding of the science, and the condition of the fish stocks.  They develop and review conservation and management measures through a consensus-based process, and establish monitoring and surveillance mechanisms to assess compliance with those measures.

Nations sign treaties to participate in RFMOs; the collective decisions are considered binding on each nation.  But each nation has to develop its own domestic regulations to implement the measures agreed to through the RFMO process.  It’s all much easier said than done, sometimes.

This area of natural resource policy is completely new to me.  I’m thankful for the opportunity that being a Knauss fellow has provided to get a glimpse into a fascinating slice of marine conservation.

 Dave Gershman
Knauss Marine Policy Fellow
(2/2013 – 2/2014)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Adapting to rising tides in Bay Area parks

As a NOAA Coastal Management Fellow with the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, I work on sea level rise adaptation through the Adapting to Rising Tides (ART) Project. We work with all sectors of local government including cities, transportation agencies and utility providers but my work focuses on parks and recreation departments.

Leslie Knope jokes aside, shoreline parks are the literal and figurative frontline for sea level rise. These parks provide recreation opportunities for millions of Bay Area residents and are heavily used by windsurfers, swimmers, walkers, bikers and picnickers.  Park visitors can learn about sea level rise impacts and adaptation through formal and informal education.  During my fellowship, I have worked with park interpretive staff to develop sea level rise curriculum for field trips and adult education.  

Shoreline parks are exposed to sea level rise impacts and sensitive to increased erosion and salt water flooding.  East Bay Regional Park District is spending millions of dollars this year to replenish sand at Crown Beach Memorial State Park (see image).  Without expensive maintenance, the recreation and shoreline protection benefits of this park will be lost.  My fellowship project is focused on understanding park-specific vulnerabilities and developing sustainable adaptation strategies.  I am lucky to work on an experience team of coastal  planners-they are all jealous that my site visits are at parks instead of to wastewater treatment plants!

For more information on the ART project, please visit

Maggie Wenger
Coastal Management Fellow
(8/2012 – 8/2014)

A Spotlight on NOAA Coastal Management Fellow, Maggie Wenger

Check out the first two pages of the latest issue of the NOAA Coastal Services Center's 
Fellow News quarterly newsletter to learn about NOAA Coastal Management fellow Maggie Wenger and her work at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Post fellowship re-cap and links to working waterfront resources

Thanks for checking back and apologies for the lack of blog posts during my busy fellowship!

I finished my Coastal Management Fellowship with the Michigan Coastal Zone Management Program and Michigan Sea Grant at the end of August and wanted to share a summary of my experiences and links to new working waterfront resources.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work in the Office of the Great Lakes (OGL) in Lansing for my first year and with Sea Grant Extension in coastal Traverse City for the second half of the fellowship. I really appreciate the valuable experience I gained in each office and the opportunity to build a diverse network and engage in both state wide and local initiatives and groups as a result of this partnership between OGL and Sea Grant. I also really enjoyed the opportunity to travel around the state to meet with planners and waterfront stakeholders in many coastal communities.

The fellowship offered me a tremendous opportunity to develop professionally. Some of the highlights include:
  • Attending and presenting at numerous conferences
  • Developing a comprehensive report and preparing case studies about working waterfronts
  • Participating in the National Working Waterfront Network
  • Advancing my understanding of coastal land use planning and Waterfront Smart Growth
  • Convening and working with an external advisory committee. 
The fellowship project helped to advance understanding of local and statewide needs, opportunities, and challenges with respect to waterfront planning and maintaining the viability of water dependent uses. Partnerships that emerged from addressing statewide waterfront access issues and from this project are now engaged in preparing coastal planning and development guidance for waterfront communities as well as increasing the accessibility and presence of tools and resources for managing waterfronts.

If you are interested in learning more about Michigan’s working waterfronts, the economic value of working waterfronts, examples of best practices for maintaining water dependent and enhanced uses, and recommended next steps, please check out Michigan Sea Grant’s Vibrant Waterfront Communities webpage:

To learn more about working waterfronts around the country and tools and resources available to support these valuable assets, please visit the National Working Waterfront network website:

Thanks for reading!

 Liz Durfee
NOAA Coastal Management Fellow
(8/2011 – 8/2013)

Monday, October 14, 2013

So long, and thanks for all the fish...

(Apologies for the Douglas Adams reference)

Hard to believe two years have gone by since I started the Coastal Management fellowship.  I had a valuable experience working with the NY Department of State (NY DOS) Oceans and Great Lakes Program.  I had the opportunity to work with lots of data on fish, marine mammal, and seabird distributions, and I was able to learn and apply various statistical modeling and GIS techniques to help "squeeze" more information out of limited data.  It's gratifying to see that some of the resulting maps made their way into the recently-released NY DOS Offshore Atlantic Study, available at  This study will help NY identify valuable offshore resources, for both recreation and industry, and intelligently plan for competing uses in an increasingly crowded offshore environment.

I also enjoyed working closely with coastal managers to help translate technical products for public audiences, while at the same time creating analyses that were supportive of public needs.  For example, I helped synthesize maps of commercial and recreational fishing intensity as depicted by actual stakeholders.   The fellowship program provided funds to present some of this work at local and regional conferences, where I was able to meet people from state, federal, and private sectors and gather a variety of perspectives on coastal science and policy.  All in all, I practiced interpersonal and technical skills, made valuable contacts, and created products in concert with my fellow Oceans and Great Lakes staff members that I'm definitely proud of.  I'm very thankful to Michigan Sea Grant, the NOAA Coastal Services Center, and NY State for providing this opportunity, and I plan on building on it for the rest of my career!

Zach Hecht-Leavitt
NOAA Coastal Management Fellow
(8/2011 – 8/2013)