Guest blogger: Serena Lomonico (MESM 2016)
Rome, Italy–I pause on my morning walk to look up at the massive Colosseum as noisy Vespas zip past. A few blocks later, I swipe my badge at the entry gate of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Headquarters, surrounded by the chatter of many languages. I make my way through the maze of the Mussolini-era building, along marble corridors echoing with morning rush footsteps, up multiple flights of stairs, and past the cappuccino-scented cafe. Finally, I arrive at the 6th floor of Building F, where I greet my colleagues. Today we have a Skype call with a representative from Colombia’s fisheries department!
The FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department is currently operating a project that intends to reduce and manage bycatch from shrimp trawl fisheries in six Latin American and Caribbean countries. Shrimp trawl vessels operate by dragging large nets across the seafloor, capturing many species besides shrimp in their path. In an average tropical shrimp trawl, the quantity of bycatch is astounding—often between 3 and 15 times more than the targeted species. Participants in the FAO project seek to find alternative uses for sustainable bycatch, and enhance food security and the livelihoods of the people in each country. For the past two weeks, I have been analyzing Costa Rica’s proposed activities and budget for the five year project timeline. Synthesizing information in both English and Spanish, I make recommendations regarding the feasibility of activities and how they will affect both the ecosystem and people involved in the shrimp trawl value chain.
The most rewarding part of my experience at FAO has been working with people from all over the world. I collaborate daily with the project team members from Brazil, Finland, Peru, and Mexico and have the opportunity to share experiences and learn from a wide variety of people. It has been a great combination of working on topics I’m passionate about and enjoying the culture, history, language (and gelato) of the beautiful Eternal City.
Serena Lomonico is an expected MESM 2016, specializing in Coastal Marine Resources Management with a focus in Strategic Environmental Communication and Media. This summer, she is working as an intern with the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
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