Devil Fish

A Short Tale of Two Conferences
by Emma Kelley -- November 20th, 2014

Conferences are a smorgasbord of opportunities all squeezed into a few whirlwind days.  By the end of a conference, you’re exhausted and your contact cards are running low, but your head is swimming in new ideas.  Conferences let you into the discussions happening at the forefront of your field (in my case, marine conservation).  Conferences bring together the experts, “the big fish”, working on the solutions to some of the issues facing mankind.  For me, conferences are a source of inspiration. I come away knowing far more than I did a few days earlier, with a renewed sense of purpose.

During my first year at the Nicholas School, I flew to California to attend the World Ocean Summit.  This was my first real conference experience and I started off at the top. Ocean leaders from around the world discussed issues such as high seas governance, aquaculture, overfishing, governance within EEZs, and natural capital.  I heard from a wide range of experts, including my own personal hero (and probably everyone’s), Sylvia Earle.


Meeting Sylvia Earle with my fellow CEM, Dana Rollison. Photo Credit: Laura Cassiani

Sarah Hoyt, an MEM/MBA at the Nicholas School, wrote a spectacular blog about the World Ocean Summit. Read it here.

More recently, I attended the 7th National Summit on Coastal and Estuarine Restoration and the 24th Biennial Meeting of The Coastal Society.  These two events are normally held separately; however, given their mutual interests and overlapping community members, they were combined into one large event held during the first week of November.  Sylvia, my partner in crime, and I were drawn to this event because of the focus on blue carbon, which we spent this past summer studying in Belize. What better way to learn more about blue carbon than from the experts?

So, I dusted off my suit and we drove from the marine lab in Beaufort, all the way up to Maryland.  The conference was held at the National Harbor on the Potomac River, just south of Washington D.C.  On our first day, we attended a blue carbon workshop. This was a great experience because it put us in a room with less than fifty folks to discuss blue carbon.  The other attendees included people new to the idea of blue carbon, as well as experts from the International Blue Carbon Working Group and NOAA.

The second and third day, we attended sessions on a variety of topics. I mostly attended the blue carbon talks; however, I branched out to hear the acting director of the National Marine Protected Areas Center talk on the roles of conservation and protected areas in coastal and estuarine management and restoration.  By noon on Tuesday, when Sylvia and I had to jump into the car for the trek back down to Beaufort, my notebook was filled to the brim with new ideas and I was eager to get back down to work.

Second-year CEM Megan Hayes has written some spectacular blogs about international conferences she’s attended recently. Read here about the Arctic Circle Conference and the Centre for the Law of the Sea Conference.


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