Welcome to this podcast about marine conservation. This episode’s special guest is Lucie Guirkinger, an international marine conservation policy maker. I like showcasing the fantastic people doing inspirational work in biology, and I am lucky to be part of a great network of professionals that makes it easy for me to chat with the interesting people and projects that come my way. In this case, quite literally came my way as Lucie joined our house share by chance.

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Timestamps

00:00:50
there are more historic artefacts under the sea than in any part of the world…

00:04:00
my favourite place is probably Santo Domingo in Dominican Republic…

00:11:50
Are you sure that you were studying them or were they studying you?

00:27:16
the first thing you think is when I clear a forest or when I dredge on the seabed, like what I get out, minerals or whatever, it’s much more valuable than whatever was there before…

00:33:03
That don’t necessarily have internet, and it’s very hard to, at this time to really give them and answer…

00:41:02
gain experience as soon as possible…

 

Transcript

♪ tune

 

Intro

Arian Hi guys, how’s it going? Did you know that upon your death and cremation, your ashes can be fed into a baby tree so that it grows on your remains? Didn’t see that coming, did ya? ♪ tune

 

Shallow Waters
Arian Welcome to this podcast about marine conservation. This episode’s special guest is Lucie Guirkinger, an international marine conservation policy maker. I like showcasing the fantastic people doing inspirational work in biology, and I am lucky to be part of a great network of professionals that makes it easy for me to chat with the interesting people and projects that come my way. In this case, quite literally came my way as Lucie joined our house share by chance.

After discovering more about her work, it became obvious that our wonderful audience – yes, you – would love to hear about it. Lucie has worked in marine conservation policy for over a decade, from coral conservation in the Dominican Republic, to more recently supporting policy for the United Nations and joining maritime affairs of the European Commission. Lucie, welcome to the podcast! …yes!

Lucie [laughter] I thought you were going to cut by segment.

Arian Well, welcome to the podcast.

Lucie Thank you, welcome guys! I’m really happy to be here.
Arian …and welcome to Cambridge again; because you used to live in Cambridge before, didn’t you?
Lucie I did, I did my Master’s here, yeah. So I’m back in the town.
Arian That’s nice. Normally, I choose the fun facts for the intro and the outro; and this time, I asked Lucie to maybe share some. She’s worked really hard to actually find some extra fun facts. So, why did you find out?

Lucie So, I think my first fun fact which is actually more an interesting fact than a fun fact is that there are more historic artefacts under the sea than in any part of the world. Apparently, there are already 1,000 shipwrecks off Florida Keys alone. So imagine the number of historical artefacts around the world!
Arian Wow.
Lucie And that’s my first fact, yeah.
Arian Did you like my intro fun fact?
Lucie What was it?
Arian About the trees.
Lucie Yeah! I mean I gave it to you!

Arian Yeah, that was yours, and I said, yeah, this is a good fun fact. But the extra ones that you found were interesting as well. Is anyone going to check out the shipwrecks?
Lucie I mean I know that shipwrecks are really interesting places for divers to go check out because they host so many like animals, you know, fish and corals and stuff.
Arian Do they? Are the really deep?

Lucie Not necessarily, depends, like some are really 20 m deep, or others are like 40-50 m and you really have to have many tanks on you, and you know, be an actual professional to go see them. But I remember last year we went with my family to Jordan and really off the the coast, like 10 m next to the shore there was a shipwreck.
Arian You could see it from the surface?
Lucie Yeah!
Arian Oh wow. So I guess a lot of tourists could just go there.
Lucie Yeah…
Arian And steal the buried treasures.
Lucie Yeah, exactly.
♪ tune

 

Diving into Marine Conservation
Arian So normally at the end of the podcast I just say the final fun fact and then I say Byeeee. And then the other person say bye. But they never realise that they have to say that, so they just sit there in silence. This is the first time I’ve said welcome and…
Lucie [laughter]
Arian And the other person also sat in silence.
Lucie Because I don’t know if it’s a test, or you just want to start another segment.
Arian Most guests, they get that one, they’re like Oh, hello, yeah, welcome.
Lucie …I was just like…

Arian Hopefully you’ll get the final bye at the end, we’ll see how it goes. I was just gonna ask some random questions here, actually; which is what’s the best city that you’ve lived in so far?
Lucie Wow, that’s a very interesting question. Because I think every place has its positive sides and its negative sides. I think…
Arian And you’re moving to London in a few days as well.
Lucie Exactly. I’m moving to london in a few days just to have that London experience, even though with covid it’s not ideal, it’s not really, you know living the London life. But honestly, like the only city that’s popping in my mind is like, you know, my favourite place is probably Santo Domingo in Dominican Republic; because I think I was there when I was 17-18, and you know the life there was absolutely amazing, it’s hot, it’s sunny, there’s a lot of activities to do, and the ocean was so close to me that I think that really made it the best city to live in.
Arian I’ve never been there, that sounds amazing. So, where did you complete you school education?

Lucie I completed it in Dominican Republic, actually. I was the last 2 years there, and I was actually in a British school, and I did the… how do you call it? How do you freaking call it?
Arian A-levels, GCSE?
Lucie No… the other one… IB! the IB.
Arian IB…
Lucie And… but it was, I mean, it was funny but at that time it was a bit sad because in the country, in the only school they had and where I was, they didn’t have all the courses you could take for the IB. And I needed biology, like high level, to go do my studies in the UK. But they didn’t have it in the country.
Arian They didn’t do biology?
Lucie They didn’t do biology high level.
Arian Was it not enough people applying to do it?
Lucie Yeah, I think most people just wanted to do, you know, end up doing business management, so of course biology is not what they’re looking for. And the thing is, like when I went to then go to study in the UK, I couldn’t, I had to do a foundation year because I didn’t have the chance to do this high level biology.

Arian So you did 4 years instead of 3.
Lucie Exactly. Yeah.
Arian A lot of people do that, who for some reason don’t have A-levels or the qualifications. I guess the first, the foundation year is similar to that qualification, or is it…
Lucie It’s literally like retaking the last year of school. I really didn’t learn much more and I think what I learn that year wasn’t that useful for my actual studies, so I feel it was a bit, yeah, not very useful.
[laughter]

Arian Good to know. So did you set out to do the work that you did, or did it just find you?
Lucie No, I mean, I’ve always been so passionate about animals that I always… and it’s true that at the beginning, you know, when I was really young I wanted to be a farmer, like have my farm with my little animals. I was like OK, always animals.

And then, as I grew up I was like no, I’m gonna be a veterinarian, and I’m gonna save the cats and the dogs, because those are animals that, you know, I absolutely love, and so many people around us have like pets. But then when I discovered that part of that job was to also kill animals, right, like euthanise them, as a vet, I was like I cannot do that.

Arian Is that a big part of the job?
Lucie As a vet, yeah. Like, you have so many animals that come in that are old and sick and you know, people just don’t wanna see them suffer, and most of the time they just…
Arian So, how come we do that with the pets but not with people? What’s the difference?
Lucie Because there’s a whole moral dilemma behind it. In the Netherlands you can do it. A friend of my mum’s, she asked to be euthanised. And it’s whole process, it takes years, you have to fill in certain requirements to be able to be euthanised, and she was euthanised. So, yeah, it depends a bit on your… Moral and conscience.

Arian So, essentially, for the pets it’s just a case of, let’s not have them have a disease and die, let’s just, like euthanise them.
Lucie Exactly, just kind of minimise their pain. But anyway, so then I decided to study zoology. Because I didn’t really know what animals, or what realm I would like to specialise in. And I really found my passion within marine biology. Both because that was always my favourite course, but also because my dad for as long as I remember, has always taken us to go like snorkelling, swimming, sailing, and I’ve always had this like close connection to the ocean.

And I just love the fact that the ocean is such a mysterious place. It’s so hard for humans to actually access it, it’s actually really hard for us to dive really really deep, and that;s why, you know, there’s so much of the ocean we still don’t know. And yeah, I think it’s kind of a passion that grew bigger and bigger, basically.

Arian That sounds amazing, so you went from farming to being a vet, to zoology.
Lucie Yeah. And then to actual marine biology.
Arian Were there any challenges in like, pursuing that trajectory, or was it just like, yeah, I wanna do this, and then you just did it?
Lucie Yeah, honestly, I think it was basically easy to just want to do marine biology because like you have those courses at university. But I don’t think, I honestly think like 20 years ago, or 30 years ago, it was maybe harder to go into that.

But no, not anymore, I think like now, with climate change and all the impacts that climate change is having on the environment, there are more and more courses like at bachelor level, at master’s level that just really focus on that, on environmental studies. So I think it’s just getting easier for people basically to pursue their passion.

Arian That’s really good. For a lot of places it’s the opposite where it used to be easy, and now it’s overcrowded and there’s a lot of people applying to do things. And there’s just too many people and not enough placements and opportunities.
Lucie Yeah.
Arian So for this, it’s the other way around, it’s like opening up to people.
Lucie Yeah, but it’s still super like competitive field, like it’s really hard to find a position as a marine biologist, in marine related stuff. Either if it’s as a researcher or is at government level, like organisation level, it’s super hard. Because there are so many more marine biologists than there are posts for it.

Arian So in that sense it is similar, that is the frustration.
Lucie Exactly, yeah. The more the people, the harder it is to get a job position.
Arian Well, let’s find out more in just a second.
♪ tune

 

Round World Trip to Dwarf Minke Whales
Arian What would listeners be surprised to know about your work?
Lucie Actually, I feel like a lot of people assume that we know everything about the marine environment. They think of a fish or they think of a marine fact and they’re like oh, can you tell me more about this? But generally, like, we know so little about our field because it’s so huge and expansive. And I think that’s maybe somehow surprising for some people. And also, I get a lot when I say I’m a marine biologist, they always ask me, oh so you work in an aquarium? Or you work at a museum.

Like you know, they don’t think that marine biology is much more than that. Like I can work for the government to have them in legislation, and setting up marine conservation zones, or work for NGOs and you know, conserve species on the ground, and also including communities in it. So I think that’s also sometimes surprises people.

Arian Yeah. It’s interesting that you say that about people just assuming that you work in an aquarium. I knew someone who worked like, in a zoo for a while. And they thought what a wonderful way to help animals and have people visiting, and teaching them and making it an educational experience for people. And she said, after a while it just became obvious that’s not what it was for, and the kids didn’t really care, they were just running around. And the animals weren’t having a good time or anything, so she just quit her job after that.

Lucie Yeah, I think, well when I did my bachelor in zoology and I said I’m a zoologist, that’s straight up I was put into that box oh, you’re gonna work at a zoo, you know, but it’s so much broader than that. But yeah, just talking about zoos, I personally don’t like zoos because you have just animals, basically caged and you just, there to see them and that’s it. They don’t have the area that they used to in the wild, and I think that’s not really ideal for the species. But at the same time, you know you have many zoos that have those programmes, conservation programmes to breed the species and try to put them back in the wild, which I think is a good idea, but I know that it’s pretty hard to actually achieve that.

Arian Yeah. And, you say people expect you to know everything and we, and there is so much that we genuinely don’t know, and I saw this weird marine creature the other day, featured in this really nice magazine, I forget what it’s called, like a spiral tube of 15 m that has, like it contracts in the shape of a spiral to move, to propel itself. And it’s got these spikes that poke out. And apparently the magazine was asking local divers to try to dive in and like, take out like a golf ball sized chunk of this animal to like, extract its DNA and like, study its genome. And then I thought, they said a small golf sized chunk and I thought, golf ball, like, a golf ball is kind of not that small. But then I went back and it said 15 m, I was like OK, fine.
[laughter]

Arian This thing’s huge. That’s fine, you know.
Lucie Exactly. No, I, see, I don’t even know what you’re on about.
[laughter]
Arian [laughter]

Lucie I and I remember, as well, I was swimming in the ocean in the Caribbean, and I saw this kind of blob, kind of moving about, and I was like what is this? And then, you know I went back home, and I googled it, and it was actually a sea slug. And I just had no idea what they looked like, because there’s a difference also what you see as images, to actually seeing the animal in the water kind of moving in such weird ways. So yeah, there’s… but that’s what I love about it, there’s still so much to learn about it and see.

Arian Yeah. There’s all these weird-shaped species that just look very alien but they’re actually on Earth. And they’re all different, all around the world. You’ve been to a lot of different places. Like a lot of different countries.
Lucie Yeah.
Arian What countries have you been to?
Lucie Well, too many to really just, you know, how do you say it…
Arian List?
Lucie List them, exactly. I think I calculated the other day that I’ve been to 58 countries.
Arian 58?
Lucie Yeah, so I’m so excited cos I’m 2 countries away from 60. [laughter] yeah.
Arian Wow, that’s amazing! So you actually can’t list them.
Lucie I could, but it would take the whole podcast to list them.
[laughter]

Arian Fair enough, OK. Start listing them, and I’ll stop you if it gets too long.
Lucie OK. So let’s start with North America, so I’ve been to Canada, US, then South so Mexico, Costa Rica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Bonaire, then Colombia, not Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, then if you go to Africa, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Eswatini, if we go to Europe, wow…
Arian East..?
Lucie Eswatini. Now it’s not called Swaziland anymore, it’s called Eswatini.
Arian How do you spell that?
Lucie Like e, and then s, w, a, t, i, n, i.
Arian I didn’t know that, when did this happen?
Lucie In 2018, 2019?
Arian Oh my god, this is like we’re living history, like
Lucie Yeah it’s really recent.
Arian It’s mad. So why did it change, does it mean anything?

Lucie I mean because Swaziland was such a white European word, and they finally gained independence I think and now it’s Eswatini. I’m actually not sure, will have to check. It changed names, yeah. I had a friend actually yesterday she was like, Swaziland, and really in the conversation I didn’t have the chance to tell her like, now it’s called Eswatini, but it’s very interesting how, you know, even in my head I’m like countries are named like this, their…
Arian It’s just a fact.
Lucie Exactly. But when you look at older maps you see how the borders have changed and fluctuated so dramatically. It’s just very interesting.
Arian Yeah, they’re all constructs.
Lucie Yeah. And then in Europe, wow, so Ireland, do I say Scotland? Or do I just say UK?
[laughter]
Arian This listing thing is more complicated than we first thought.
Lucie Yes.
Arian If you say UK, then Scotland is part of it.
Lucie OK then, UK. Cos I’ve been to Wales as well. So I guess all UK. Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Poland, Germany, Czechia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Croatia, ah! Not Serbia, the other one… Slovakia, do they say that? Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and I think that’s it for Europe. And Russia. And then Middle East, oh and Northern Africa, sorry I forgot. So Morocco, Jordan, that’s it for that area. Then Australia, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia.

Arian You’ve visited almost 60 countries, you definitely timed that right. Because if you tried to do that now you probably wouldn’t…
Lucie It would be pretty complicated, yes.
Arian It’s a good thing you got in so many countries in the part of the century where people could actually travel.
Lucie Yes, but I think it’s going to start opening up again fairly soon I hope.
Arian Hopefully. Was your experience of marine conservation different in all these continents and countries?

Lucie I think it was different because I was doing different things. Like, when I was in Australia, so I was there for 6 months as part of a semester in marine biology and ecology that I was doing at James Cook University which is based in Townsville, Northern Australia. I actually volunteered for several organisations and also for researchers and so, I was volunteering for the dwarf minke whale project.

So the dwarf minke whales are dwarf size of minke whales [laughter] which are found like all along the coast of Australia and migrate to really south to the Antarctic. And for me like it was a magical experience because, more in the part of the field work because, the desk work was all about identifying species, identifying if individuals, like see how many we observed like per year in a season, how may were calves, how many were adults, and that was like really based on comparing photographic evidence of each of the seasons, so it takes a long time, like they don’t have, they haven’t developed software yet where you can just put the pictures up and the software just processes it and tells you OK, like from 2016 to 2017 we still see the same I don’t know, 10-year old whale.

But what was really fascinating for me was really the field work part of it where I was a week on a boat, like a week-long riverboat and we went throughout the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef, and it was actually fantastic because basically those touristic boats allowed researchers to go on board to carry out the field work, because all the have the money to have field work with our own expenses, and it was both inspiring people on board about our work and about whales, how fantastic they are, trying to get donations from them as well.

And, on the other side of it was just to actually, being on the ground with the whales, like swimming with whales, and take pictures of them, to be able to identify them later. And what is actually very interesting about dwarf minke whales is that they’re very curious creatures, like they’re one of the most curious whales you can find around you. And they would pass literally 1 m away, and you could see in their eyes they were looking at you and it was just like wow.

Arian [laughter] you had a moment.
Lucie Yeah, basically. No, it was actually fantastic and you had like a group of 10 whales and sometimes I’ve heard that they’ve had like 40-50 whales.
Arian Are you sure that you were studying them or were they studying you?
Lucie [laughter] That’s such a good question, I definitely think they were also like studying us, you know, like the way they were so curious about us. There’s also a very strict protocol to follow when you do whale watching. In our case you had a rope tied to the boat and you had to hang onto the rope and they really advise you not to move, not to do any like… drastic movements.

Arian Sudden movements?
Lucie Sudden moves, exactly. Because you could scare the whales and when you scare an animal, what happens? Either they become aggressive or you know, it’s always a drastic reaction. Not that it has ever happened, but you know always wanna avoid that. And I think that’s something that people don’t really understand.

To really keep distance from wild animals. I’m sure you’ve heard of many people that… I think the most recent one was someone kayaking and the whale breached onto the boat because the person was 1 m away from the whale and they weren’t expecting the whale to come back up and open its mouth, and obviously feed on fish that were around.

And I think it’s always very important to at least stay 20 m away from the whales or from whatever, turtle or dolphin or whatever you see, and let them come to you. Remain fairly relaxed, and just let them come to you; but if they don’t, don’t chase them.
Arian Yeah, some people don’t take that advice. YouTube recommended me a video, “How to survive being swallowed by a whale”
Lucie [laughter]

Arian It had steps, you know, it said make sure you’ve got like a suit that is going to withstand the stomach acid of the whale, curl up into a ball so that you’re less likely to be touched by the teeth and like, slashed. And don’t panic, it’s gonna be very dark in there.
I think that’s just a joke [laughter] that’s impossible. I mean, of course I know they have huge mouths and a human could fit in it, but I think, honestly you would just have enough time to just… get out.

Arian You’d just die. No, I think…
Lucie The whale wouldn’t close its mouth and just keep you there.
Arian [laughter] it was based on this guy who was swallowed, but then immediately spat out. So obviously that’s not the same but he basically said “I survived being eaten by a whale”.
Lucie Yeah, I just… yeah. I don’t think it’s a good idea, please don’t do it. [laughter]
Arian [laughter]
OK, so we’ll find out how to build a more sustainable marine environment coming up next.
♪ tune

 

Making Change Profitable
Arian What is the greatest challenge in achieving progress in creating a more environmentally friendly and sustainable world

Lucie So, I mean I think that’s definitely a super quick question. And I think the main challenge is to really get every sector on board. Because so far you have certain groups of citizens in society or of course, people working in environmental conservation that are really trying to achieve this progress, but when you think about it at a political level or economic level, it’s generally, there’s no interest basically to really integrate conservation.

Because, of course, the first thing you think is when I clear a forest or when I dredge on the seabed, like what I get out, minerals or whatever, it’s much more valuable than whatever was there before. But I think that is actually really changing more because of the covid crisis, the covid pandemic. People are really realising that nature provides us with so many benefits that are very very hard to value economically. But these models are really being created to really have an idea of the actual value and that is really the focus of conservation at the moment; is to really find the value of, I don’t know.

For example, I was reading some papers about mangroves and how in Thailand for example, there’s a bit surge of agriculture practices to be able to rear shrimps and then sell them worldwide. And although they say, OK, so shrimp farming is giving us a billion dollars in benefits per year, whereas if you just leave the mangroves like that, it’s just about a million dollars benefit, they didn’t take into account so many aspects that the mangroves have, you know like they provide shelter for like birds, and many other mammals, they provide food for fuels and local communities, like communities really rely on mangroves for fisheries as well, and so that’s also a major driver of economic growth right, because if you have people going into poverty then that’s not helpful to the economy.

But I think also, one of the main challenges is the economic system where it’s of course much more based on profit and on single use, and I think we’ll really have to tackle this to really be able to have more sustainable lives.
Arian Thank you. No, that’s really good. So essentially, it’s about bringing to light and being explicit about the things that we’ve just ignored and have just been invisible.
Lucie Exactly. Yeah.
Arian I’ve seen that you worked on like a label, like a sustainability thing. What was that about?

Lucie Yeah so, very recently I was doing a traineeship at the European Commission with the maritime affairs and fisheries department of the European Commission. And they have a regulation about fisheries’ products and how to label them. You know like where they were caught, the size, the species name; and it’s pretty outdated, like I think it was, it came out in 1980. And of course, with the whole problem of sustainable fisheries, they want to implement this regulation where…

So it’s not a label, because a label and regulations differ, like labels kind of… I mean, they didn’t really want a label because then it would bring some conflicts. But yeah, and it was really about integrating the dangers that fish are sustaining from these unsustainable fisheries and try to integrate that into regulations. So for example, what kind of nets have they used to fish that species? Because, for example the trawl nets which are dragged along the sea floor; they really damage the whole sea floor, and completely destroy the ecosystem.

So for example, if you buy a fish that you know, on the labels they would have to put OK, so they used a trawl net to fish that species, so it’s environmentally not friendly. So that’s what they try to integrate at EU level, but it’s really hard because they want to do it per species and the problem is there’s not enough data or some people don’t want to share the data and it has to be publicly available and that’s really hard to obtain because there aren’t publicly available data bases.

But I just do hope that even if it starts with a very basic system we can only just really grow and you know, develop that system. So I really hope it’s gonna be put in place so that also all the countries in the world can also develop their own sustainable fishery system.
Arian That’s amazing. Let’s find out what Lucie’s work looks like, day to day, coming up.
♪ tune

 

Making Marine Moves
Arian What are the biggest tools that you use in your work?
Lucie So, right now, I work at UNEP-WCMC and we work with 11 countries worldwide and we support these countries to implement environmental regulation into their national legislations. One of the biggest tools that we use actually is PowerPoint [laughter] because we carry out workshops with them to introduce them to the assessments that they can use at the country level to understand what kind of ecosystems they have in their country, to find out what policy they will need to effectively protect those environments.

So in those workshops we have that about these assessments, how to find those key policy questions that they need to answer, what kind of people they have to talk to, to gain that knowledge basically. And we want it to be as integrative as possible, is that a word, integrative? [laughter]

Arian To have integrity…
Lucie Yeah, like to have as many stakeholders involved as possible basically. You know, from indigenous communities to political leaders to youth organisations, because for anything to really be accepted by society, you need to have society involved in what you do, right? And so through these workshops as well, we use this tool called Miro Boards and…
Arian I know Miro Boards, some people showed me Miro.

Lucie Yeah! It’s really cool, I actually just learned how to use it through this job. It’s basically a tool that allows you to for example, add post-its. You know it’s kind of a digital whiteboard basically. People can just like share ideas or just write down whatever they know about certain subjects or certain ideas. Yeah, so that’s the main tools that we use: PowerPoint, Miro, nothing out of this world.

Arian So you don’t need to physically be in an office.
Lucie No, but it’s difficult to engage with many stakeholders during this pandemic, because of course the government officials, or people who have access to the internet, like internet and a laptop, it’s very easy but a question that we have from some countries is how do I engage with stakeholders from, that are living in remote areas of the country?

That don’t necessarily have internet, and it’s very hard to, at this time to really give them and answer, we say you can give them a phone call, or obviously it’s also country-dependent. Some countries have less lockdown measures or, so in this case they can actually go to those communities and talk to the indigenous leaders or local leaders.

Arian Is that something that you’re going to have to do?
Lucie No, because what we do is really provide the tools and guidance on how to carry out those assessments. Who to contact, and we really support them throughout the process. But at the end, we really want to encourage this in-country expertise, and in-country work. For them themselves to really engage with their different stakeholder groups.

Arian Do different disciplines go into your work? Is it like a very interdisciplinary sort of field? Lucie Do you have to work with specialists from other areas?
It depends. Right now, it really depends on the country. Some countries, they wanna focus their assessments on let’s say marine ecosystems, so then you have expertise in fisheries that carry out this assessment; other countries are just more interested in forest ecosystems, so then you will have this kind of expertise involved in the assessment.

But generally still within the environmental realm of expertise, not really economic or financial, but this assessment really seeks to be integrated later, not only as an environmental policy, but across sectors as well. So at the end you do have other experts at the later stage that sill be really involved with that policy to make sure that it’s effectively integrated within the legislation.

Arian Uh-uh. You did some really interesting work with, I think, was that in the Dominican Republic, you were working with local women to teach them how to do, how to do something?
Lucie So that was actually in Papua New Guinea.
Arian Papua New Guinea.
Lucie Yeah, with the Coral Sea Foundation. And it’s actually fantastic because they really are encouraging more of a bottom-up approach, where it’s the local communities that really decide, you know, what areas they wanna conserve, how big the area is going to be, and once that is decided, of course within the community, then we trained women to monitor like the status of those marine protected areas.

And engage with the community, and you know kind of giving them this feedback of how well the environment is going.
Arian So you didn’t give them a fish, you just taught them how to fish.
Lucie Yeah, pretty much. [laughter]
Arian [laughter]
Lucie No, as in like, it’s really just teaching them how to snorkel, how to put transects on the corals, and for example identify where there’s like just sand, corals, seagrass, and from there just… they can just come back to our project leaders and ask them you know, for example, this is degrading like what we can do to preserve this certain environment.

But it’s great because in those communities, women are generally not, don’t have such an equal space within this community, so the fact that they are now in charge of such and important aspect of their livelihoods, because they’re very dependent on fisheries, it really brings out this equality level between men and women.
Arian What was their feedback?

Lucie Honestly, that they really felt much more empowered, women felt much more free to have a say in the community and I think that just, overall make them very yeah, just happy at the end, you know when your voice is heard.

And also more as a general, more like a general level, they were also happy that they could see their reefs degrading, and fish being more scarce than before, and just being able to see a difference with having these marine areas really kind of brought relief to the whole community as well.

Arian Brought relief… trying to make a joke about reef, relief. Reef…
Lucie Oh yeah. Relieve the reef.
[laughter]
Arian [laughter]
Stay tuned for Lucie’s parting nuggets of wisdom, coming up.
♪ tune

 

Lucie’s Lights

Arian The world of work is shifting on a mass scale. At the same time, young people are faced with very difficult prospects for work and education. What do you think the role of education, perseverance and networking are having on people’s potential careers?

Lucie It has a very drastic effect. Nowadays every job position always requires a bachelor’s, a master’s and tons of experience, which is not generally the case. But I think my advice would definitely be well, 2 things. The first one would be to gain experience as soon as possible. In anything, can be an organisation, just really anything that you know, they are interested about.

And more for people that are actually just not sure what they want to study. If they are between two things, like Oh, maybe I want to do psychology or I wanna be an engineer, I think even though it’s… getting a job is just much more difficult nowadays, there are also many more opportunities to gain experience. And I think like one of the first advice would really just be to gain experience on the ground, in the field, because that’s what I did.

Before I graduated from, at school, I worked for this NGO in the Dominican Republic and that’s really when I was like Oh, yeah, I definitely wanna do marine conservation. This is exactly what I’m passionate about. Because it’s really hard to go from this idea of oh, I wanna be a marine biologist to actually knowing what it entails, like what you will be doing every day like day to day.

So I think that would definitely be my first advice just to get experience. And that experience you can then put in your CV. And that’s always welcome. You know, for interviews and things. And the second is, I mean you mentioned it as part of your question, but the network.

I think network is so so important. If you’re inspired by someone, if it’s just a company that you think you would love to work in, just try to contact the people that work in that organisation, or contact that person and they will really let you know like, how they could be an ideal candidate for a job position within the organisation, what kind of experience you would need; or just advise you whatever questions you might have; yeah, really network is really everything. Like the bigger your network, the more you’ll be able to get to your destination.
Arian [laughter] that’s lovely.

 

Outro

Arian Well, thank you for joining me Lucie,
Lucie Thank you so much.
Arian And thank you for listening, and remember, If you don’t fancy being burnt and fed to a baby tree, you can always replace your blood with a cryopreservant and sit in a freezer for a couple hundred years until medicine figures out how to revive you. I wonder if you’ll still be able to speak the language once you wake up. Byeeee
Lucie Byeeeee ♪ tune

 

Learn more about Lucie at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lucieguirkinger/ on twitter @lucieguirk and instagram @luliguirk