Pew Charitable Trusts invited the Stony Brook Marine Science Club to participate in a photo contest for one of their ocean conservation campaigns. The goal of the campaign was to create a mosaic of photos of people holding a poster that said “Let’s stop the waste of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna” in an effort to inform the public how destructive longline fishing can be to endangered fish.
The Marine Science Club collected over 400 photos and won the contest, earning club president Emily Markowitz the honor to accompany Pew to present the mosaic to NOAA officials. Club member Jenna Schwerzmann was able to join her on the trip to Washington D.C., thanks to SoMAS Dean Minghua Zhang and Assistant Dean Stefanie Massucci.
The students met Thomas Wheatley and Lee Crockett, of Pew’s Gulf Surface Longline Campaign and two students from Rollins College in Florida, who contributed a few hundred photos to the mosaic as well. The group arrived at the Pew headquarters to prepare for their meeting with NOAA and got to see the mosaic for the first time, which had over 7,000 photos in total!
At the meeting at NOAA, the students were able to witness real conservation work unfold. Wheatley spoke to Sam Rauch, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, and his team about their comments on NOAA’s newest regulations on tuna fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. The major comment was on how NOAA wanted to take fishing quota away from rod and reel fishers and give it to commercial fisheries. This way, the commercial fishermen could keep more of their catch, instead of tossing what exceeded their quota. But Pew believed this would be “throwing more fish at the problem” and had other ideas, like extending the no-fishing time period and using more selective gear. This allowed the fisherman to catch the same amount of fish, but waste much less.
The students then presented the mosaic to NOAA and explained how the photos were collected. The reaction to the mosaic was positive, and Jenna was hopeful they would take Pew’s advice regarding changes to policy. “It was really cool to see this policy aspect in action,” she said, “and I’m really grateful for the opportunity. I will never forget it!”
The full mosaic is available online!
Content contributed by Stony Brook Marine Science Club member Jenna Schwerzmann.