A Kenyan is among eight marine scientists and conservationists who will conduct research and develop tools to strengthen ocean conservation.
The eight, from Kenya, Australia, China, Japan, Indonesia and the US, will do the research after they were named this year’s recipients of the Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation.
The research aims to improve fisheries management, advance sustainable aquaculture, protect declining populations of sharks and other marine species and foster more effective restoration of coral reefs in their respective countries. The Kenya marine fisheries scientist, Dr Nina Wambiji, is the only one in Africa.
The other 2020 Pew Fellows are Eric Gilman (US), Ling Cao (China), Arthur Gleason (US), Asta Audzijonyte (Australia), Ana Sequeira (Australia), Andrianus Sembiring (Indonesia) and Hiroe Ishihara (Japan). Dr Wambiji, who has over 15 years’ experience in marine research, becomes the second African woman to be picked. The marine scientists will collect existing data to examine how fisheries are affecting populations of billfish species, focusing on Kenya, Somalia, Comoros, Seychelles and Mauritius.
“I am very delighted to be picked for this prestigious fellowship. The support is very important to my institution, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute and the Western Indian Ocean region at large as we continue to expand research on understudied billfish species,” she said in an interview with Shipping and Logistics. Their work is to support the sustainable management of the world’s oceans, which face mounting threats from climate change, development, overfishing and pollution.
“The programme supports high-quality research that brings new data, analyses and innovations to marine conservation. It builds and fosters a global community of experts who learn from each other and work together to amplify the effects of their combined research efforts,” said Rebecca Goldburg, the director of environmental research and science for The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Following a nomination and review process, a team of experts from around the world recommends fellows for the award based on the strengths of their proposed projects, including the potential to advance protection of ocean environments. Each of the selected individuals will receive a three-year $150,000 (Sh16 million) fellowship and access to a community of fellows and programme alumni, who share ideas, form collaborations and gain professional skills and connections.