Who and What?
I am a recent college graduate from Wesleyan University, aspiring oceanographer, avid consumer of seafood, (very, very novice) surfer, former collegiate swimmer, and complete geek for anything related to the oceans and other large bodies of water. I’ve been awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to pursue an independent project of my own design for the coming year (July 2016-July 2017). I am visiting various countries throughout
the world to learn more about the local context in which aquaculture (fish and seafood farming) is practiced and experienced. I’ll be blogging about my experiences throughout the year and hope you’ll follow along on this adventure of AquaCultureShock!
My interest in seafood is part of a larger passion for the ocean. I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois – but the ocean has always had a strong attraction for me. When I enjoy a fish filet I am as deeply invested in its flavor as its provenance: how did this fish get to my plate? Traditional narratives of fishing tend to romanticize the danger and uncertainty that humans face when trying to fish, but the advent of modern aquaculture has given rise to a whole new set of experiences and narratives of humans and the seafood they harvest. I am interested in collecting these narratives across the globe to understand how they are influenced by various factors.
My year will be primarily shaped by hands on experience at local fish and seafood farms in each of the countries I’m visiting. Through a combination of volunteering and participant-observation I aim to get as close as I can to the fish and the people that farm them. I will be supplementing these experiences by conducting informal interviews with other sectors of the aquaculture industry who are not directly responsible for production (Including, but by no means limited to: government officials, aquaculture research scientists, fish/seafood transporters, industry group representatives, and any others). Although the Watson requires no formal final product at the end of my year, I hope that I can begin to string together my experiences, stories, and knowledge in meaningful ways that help me understand the complexity of the growing aquaculture industry worldwide.
When and Where?
I will start my fellowship in late July 2016 and will spend the next 12 months abroad (only returning to the US in July of 2017). My general plan is to examine aquaculture in four distinct regions of the world:
1. SE Asia (Thailand and Indonesia) – July through November
2. Oceania (New Zealand) – November through February
3. South America (Chile) – March through May
4. Europe (Norway and Scotland) – May through July
Although it is important to note that my fellowship permits a great deal of flexibility in my travel locations and dates. If there is something interesting for me to learn in a previously unanticipated time and place, I have the freedom to follow it! If you are working in any of these regions or have connections in countries I have not listed but might be helpful, I’d be very grateful to hear from you. Or, if you’d like to learn more about my project, please get in touch.