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)

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