Growing up in the Swiss mountains, the ocean was a distant dream for me until I took my first gulp of Mediterranean seawater at age nine. I have since lived in Australia, Indonesia, Palau, and New Caledonia, to study and work on issues related to tropical fisheries and anthropogenic impacts on large marine predators, including fisheries bycatch, aerial and boat-based marine megafauna surveys, shark fisheries and fishing livelihoods.
I realized early on that the natural sciences alone didn’t allow me to get to the bottom of the issues I wanted to pursue with my studies. In my PhD research I combined methods from the natural and social sciences to study the eastern Indonesian shark fishery. This experience of combining different disciplinary approaches landed me on a continuing journey of exploring novel solutions to management and conservation questions in coastal and oceanic fisheries.
After joining CRRF in 2016, I worked on various consultancies throughout the Micronesia/SE Asia region while writing up my PhD and raising my first (human) baby. Through my GEF-SGP funded project on dugongs I was able to return to the joy of doing fieldwork and discover the rewards of public science outreach. Later, working in a government agency as fisheries scientist, I was immersed in the realities of natural resource management in a small Pacific Island nation. Simultaneously, this work exposed me to regional fisheries science and management bodies, which led to my first postdoc.
My current work focuses on bycatch in oceanic fisheries targeting tuna. Funded through the Swiss National Science Foundation, this project aims to establish a baseline of bycatch species caught in Palau’s tuna longline fishery over the past decade. This lays a foundation for future performance assessments of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) – fully implemented on 1st January 2020 – and to estimate the expected protective effect of the PNMS on bycatch species.
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Declining catches, a reduction in the demand for shark fin and debilitating debt with their bosses have left many Indonesian shark fishers in search of a new livelihood. This short documentary investigates one such ‘diversification strategy’ of fishers in one of my study sites, providing insight into small-scale fishers’ susceptibility to external pressures, and shedding light on some common misperceptions about people smugglers.
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