The renewed Coral Reef Management Fellowship Program provides participants an opportunity to experience and learn about coral reef management within coral reef jurisdictions. Because of the program’s importance and history of success, it has been one of the AIC’s top priorities for the last few years. We are pleased to see this program renewed and thrilled to be a partner.
This Fellowship Program is a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs, the jurisdictions, and U.S. All Islands Coral Reef Committee, and is managed by the National Coral Reef Institute at Nova Southeastern University.
The AIC appreciates the support, financial and staff time commitment, and partnership of NOAA and DOI, in particular. With the help of these agencies, this important program is revitalized and will help build coral reef management capacity at the local level.
PURPOSE: The National Coral Reef Management Fellowship Program (NCRMFP) responds to the need for increased coral reef management capacity in the coral reef jurisdictions while providing an opportunity for fellows to gain professional experience, expertise, and understanding of coral reef resources and management at the jurisdictional level.
PROJECT GOALS: To generate locally trained professionals to fill coral reef management capacity gaps to meet effective management needs.
The NCRMFP provides participants an opportunity to experience and learn about coral reef management within coral reef jurisdictions. This program is aimed at strengthening local coral reef management capacity by:
- Providing a mechanism to generate high quality professionals that help fill the jurisdictions’ capacity needs in coral reef management.
- Providing on the ground experience in the fields of coral reef science/management, at the local level, that will help to hone the fellows’ understanding and professional skill set for working on coral reef ecosystems and resources.
- Equipping fellows with experience to guide next steps in pursuing a career working on coral reef issues.
- Providing opportunities to interact and connect with government agencies and partners working on coral reef ecosystem and related resource management in the local jurisdiction.
- Providing a defined path for the fellow to transition into a local jurisdiction position working on coral reef management related efforts.
Unfortunately, this program is funded only for the next 1-2 years. After that, funding will again need to be pursued. The AIC continues to work with the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force to find ways to sustain this important program. We continue to look for in and out of the box ways to sustainably support this important program for the long term. Additionally, we look forward to working with the Task Force in building local capacity through a formalized and sustained Fellowship Program and really appreciate the commitment of our co-chairs to moving this forward.
The 2018-2019 Fellows started their fellowships in January 2018. Their biographies and project focus areas are below:
American Samoa – Motusaga Vaeoso
Originally from American Samoa, Motu holds a B.S. in Biology from Chaminade University of Honolulu.
After graduating, she started working for a local government agency as the marine debris coordinator, and then a coral reef monitoring technician. Additionally, she has participated in various outreach and education efforts and developed material to increase local community awareness on coral reef management issues. Motusaga loves to observe the behavior of fish in their habitat and photograph them. She is one of the few Samoans who has conducted fish surveys across all the American Samoan islands including Tutuila, Ofu, Olosega, Tau, Rose Atoll National Monument and Swains Island. Her aim is to foster Loto nu’u (stewardship of the environment) in her fellow Samoans to help to preserve and enhance island ecosystems and life.
During her Fellowship, Motu will help to create a locally driven Coral Reef Health Report Card and help ensure the content of these report cards is available to local villages to support village level management decisions. Additionally, she will coordinate with partners to conduct a sustainable fisheries outreach campaign.
CNMI – Malcolm Johnson
Raised in Northern Virginia, Malcolm Johnson received his B.A. in Environmental Sociology from Wichita State University and his M.A. in Ocean and Coastal Resource Management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey.
As the fellow in the CNMI, Johnson is working on the Luta/Talakhaya Revegetation Project, located on the island of Rota. The overall goal of his project is to improve the health and protect the Talakhaya watershed, including its streams and adjacent coral reef habitat, from land-based sources of pollution. His main activities include planting grasses and trees in the watershed, as well as assisting with monitoring of the stream and coastal water quality on Rota.
Florida – Maurizio Martinelli
A New York City native, Maurizio Martinelli holds a B.A. in International Development Studies from McGill University and an M.A.S. in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD.
Martinelli has spent most of his career working in the United Nations system, first with the Permanent Mission of Tuvalu to the United Nations and subsequently for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Martinelli has also worked in the private sector on coral reef conservation and restoration in the Gulf of Thailand. Martinelli is a trained dive master, avid hiker, and rather terrible surfer.
Maurizio will focus his fellowship work on coordination of regional meetings for disease response partners to assist the FDEP in identifying and implementing management actions to remediate disease impacts, restore affected resources, and prevent future outbreaks. He will also lead content development and technical writing for a Florida Coral Disease Prevention and Response Plan that will aid coral reef managers for future disease outbreaks.
Guam – Mallory Morgan
Born and raised in Cocoa Beach, Florida, Mallory holds a B.S. degree in both Environmental Studies and International Relations from Florida State University and a M.A.S. in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California, San Diego.
Mallory is an avid water woman and traveled as a SCUBA Instructor through Australia, Bali, and Costa Rica before settling down in San Diego’s temperate waters where she worked on local-level climate mitigation and resilience strategies and environmental conservation philanthropy. She previously worked on marine protected areas in Fiji, black bear management in Florida, and a sea turtle hatchery in response to the Deep Horizon oil spill. She currently serves on the Board of Indigenous Regeneration, a nonprofit on the San Pasqual Indian Reservation dedicated to reconnecting native youth to their cultural heritage through food, holistic medicine, music, community, and environmental stewardship.
Mallory will focus on relationship building with Guam’s Tourism industry to reduce impacts on Guam’s reefs, by developing a training program for staff who work with tourists. Additionally, she will help with outreach events for International Year of the Reef.
Hawaii – Alessandra Shea
Born and raised in Newport Beach, California, Alessandra Shea received her B.S. in Society and Environment from University of California, Berkeley and her M.A. in Geography from University of Hawai’i, Mānoa.
Growing up on the California coast, the ocean became a part of her life from an early age. Her studies and interest about what goes on beneath the surface as well as peoples’ relationship to the ocean have taken her around the world, studying in island countries throughout the Pacific and Caribbean, landing in Cuba for her masters.
Alessandra will be working to support the Coral Bleaching Collaborative in Hawaii as well as the implementation of the Coral Bleaching Recovery Plan. She will also support DAR’s outreach efforts on sustainable fisheries rules in coordination with the Community-based Subsistence Fishing Area program.
Puerto Rico – Melissa Gonzalez
Melissa grew up in Davidsonville, Maryland and received a BS in Environmental Science from Bridgewater College and an MS in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology from the University of Maryland.
As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador, Melissa spent two years in a coastal community working on waste management and mangrove restoration projects, then transitioned to monitoring coral reefs and coastal birds in Machalilla National Park during a third year. She later joined Peace Corps Response in the Philippines, where she worked assessing coral reefs with the local government of Catbalogan City. Melissa is an avid diver and advocate for marine and coastal conservation. Her main interests include underwater photography, coral reef restoration, and spending time with her favorite elasmobranchs – stingrays.
Melissa’s Fellowship will support in the development of a rapid response protocols and associated procedures to initiate damage assessments and engage Federal and Commonwealth agencies as part of disaster related emergencies on coral reefs
US Virgin Islands – Austen Stovall
Originally from Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, Austen Stovall earned her B.S. in Biology from Wake Forest University.
Most recently, she worked for the Coral Restoration Foundation in Key Largo, FL developing new education and outreach strategies and diving in their offshore coral nursery and at restoration sites up and down the Keys. She also served as a Special Activities Instructor at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island. Previously, she spent time working for various marine conservation non-profits including the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) and The School for Field Studies (SFS) Panama.
Austin will be focusing on reef relevant restoration opportunities (Marine and terrestrial), helping to reduce the impact of boat groundings in the territory and coordinating a citizen science program.