Faculty and staff at the Coastal Resources Center (CRC) welcomed 13 international graduate students to URI and Rhode Island last week with a potluck dinner social.
These master’s- and Ph.D.-degree candidates hail from Eritrea, Ghana, Indonesia, and Malawi. They’ll be furthering their studies at URI’s College of Environmental and Life Sciences and Graduate School of Oceanography with financial support from USAID/Ghana’s Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP), USAID FISH Project in Malawi, and the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. Through CRC’s Ambassador Program, the students are receiving logistical support for living in New England, and have been adopted by a new family of friends and well-wishers.
Heard about FORTIFIED homes in the Providence Journal or on RI Public Radio and how they can help your clients and communities be more resilient? You too can become FORTIFIED Wise. A training session on May 10 will provide participants with a solid understanding of the FORTIFIED Home building principles, construction practices and verification requirements. The FORTIFIED-Wise accreditation is ideal for anyone who wants to learn more about FORTIFIED Home and its sponsor, the non-profit Insurance Institute for Building and Home Safety (IBHS), whether they are new to the program or not,”including architects, engineers, builders, contractors, insurance professionals, product manufacturers, building officials, students and real estate professionals.
Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, a longtime participant in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, will share his insights on emerging climate science and trends at the next Beach SAMP stakeholder meeting, Tuesday, May 3, from 6 to 8 p.m. in Corless Auditorium on URI’s Narragansett Bay Campus.
He recently served as a coordinating lead author of both the IPCC’s special report on extreme climate events and disasters (called SREX) and the Fifth Assessment Report. Dr. Oppenheimer has been a member of several panels of the National Academy of Sciences and is now a member of the National Academies’ Board on Energy and Environmental Studies. He is also a winner of the 2010 Heinz Award and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
His interests include science and policy of the atmosphere, particularly climate change and its impacts. Much of his research aims to understand the potential for “dangerous” outcomes of increasing levels of greenhouse gases by exploring the effects of global warming on the ice sheets and sea level, on the risk from coastal storms and on patterns of human migration.
Hundreds of people attended Friday’s public lecture by URI President David M. Dooley at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in Ghana and later witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between CRC/URI and UCC’s Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences and Centre for Coastal Management, during the president’s first trip to the West African nation.
During his talk, President Dooley said his vision upon assuming office as president of URI was to vastly increase internationalization and globalization of the school and its students because the world we live in is not just interconnected but interdependent and hyper-connected. Such hyper-connectedness includes a global economy and society in which citizens communicate in seconds and not in days or weeks. The complexity of the modern world includes great challenges, such as climate change, which is beyond one single nation’s ability to solve alone, he continued.
“With these global challenges also come global opportunities. We need to focus more on the opportunities,” he told the audience.
He continued: The less-developed world is not responsible for the lion’s share of atmospheric changes, but it and the entire world have to live with the consequence. That is not the only challenge with global consequences: War in one country affects the entire world; the outbreak of diseases, quality of the air we breathe, sustainability of the food supply, disputes and conflicts are all global issues, he said.
“We are no longer insulated by borders and oceans as we once were, but in all this, are global opportunities and demand for higher education,” President Dooley said.
During the memorandum of understanding signing ceremony, President Dooley received a gift of rich local Ghanaian kente cloth and sandals. The entire URI delegation received souvenirs from UCC as a symbol of friendship.
President Dooley continued his inaugural trip to Ghana Saturday when he met with four doctoral and two master’s students bound for URI on a USAID-funded scholarship program. The graduate students went through an intensive and competitive selection process to emerge as recipients of the scholarships. President Dooley congratulated and welcomed the students in advance to URI and hoped they make the most of the experience.
Two USAID projects, USAID/Ghana Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) and USAID/UCC Capacity Strengthening Project are collaborating in this effort.
Also Saturday, two research assistants from UCC supporting SFMP’s research and improved data quality systems activities demonstrated how they collect fish stock data.
URI President Dr. David M. Dooley is in Ghana through April 20, solidifying relationships with Ghanaian universities and visiting projects led by CRC: USAID/Ghana Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) and USAID/West Africa Analytical Support Services and Evaluations for Sustainable Systems (ASSESS).
On Friday, April, 15, he met with University of Cape Coast (UCC) Vice-Chancellor Professor D.D. Kuupole. President Dooley said he sees his visit as an opportunity to strengthen collaboration and friendship with the wider university community. Prof. Kuupole says UCC treasures the collaboration, which has helped draw the university’s Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences into the limelight.
As a young boy growing up in a coastal village in Ghana, URI graduate student Evans Arizi could see the economic importance of fish.
He saw local fishermen in Metika and Anlomatuope — fishing villages near the border of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa — paddle their canoes into the waves and watched international boats cast nets into the water to reel in Ghana’s main source of protein.
He also saw how frequently fishing resources were exploited.
“The challenges are many,” Arizi, 29, says. “Some fishermen are using inadvisable methods of fishing, and the territorial waters are not protected due to insufficient logistics, so anyone can come in there and fish.”
In Ghana, lack of government investment in sustainable fishing policies has created a plethora of problems with illegal fishing. Because fishing laws are not properly enforced, vessels frequently use incorrect gear, like nets that are too small to free bycatches and immature fish, therefore increasing their catch and profits but depleting the stock of young fish before they can reproduce. Though fishermen are supposed to report juvenile catches, many do not out of fear of punishment. Arizi says local fishermen sometimes adhere to practices that pollute waters and lead to species degradation.
“Local authorities back these illegal practices out of greed,” he says. “(They think,) ‘Let me think of my stomach, let me not think of others.’ ”
Arizi aims to help change that culture at home, and the path to that goal has taken him to URI. He was introduced to the university through CRC. As an undergraduate, he participated in a fish stock assessment training program that was part of a CRC sustainable fisheries project in Ghana, which “provided many useful relevant materials” to local fishing communities, he says.
CRC currently leads a group of partners in the five-year Sustainable Fisheries Management Project in Ghana funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID/Ghana SFMP). The project aims to improve conditions for sustainable local fishing practices, help fishing communities become stewards of their resources, strengthen information systems for managing fisheries and increase awareness for protecting fisheries ecosystems and the people who rely on them for their livelihoods, among other goals.
To help create the next generation of fisheries scientists and leaders in Ghana, the project is facilitating student exchanges and scholarship opportunities at URI in collaboration with the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, Arizi’s alma mater. Through CRC, Arizi applied for a scholarship to earn a PhD in Biological and Environmental Sciences at URI. He was accepted and moved to URI to begin the three-and-a-half-year program in January. It was his first time outside of Ghana.
“When the opportunity came for me to come here I was so excited,” Arizi says. “I felt that by coming here I would get the necessary materials and resources to be equipped to handle the opposition (to implementing and enforcing sustainable fishing laws in Ghana).”
Before coming to URI, Arizi worked as a principal research assistant for the Department of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. That experience, his fieldwork with CRC and his course work as an undergrad and graduate student at the university in Ghana brought the fisheries challenges into sharp focus. Much of it comes down to competition, Arizi says.
“When an individual spots a friend doing such an unwarranted act (like illegal fishing practices), he will decide to do the same,” Arizi says. While he believes the government needs to implement and enforce fishing laws recommended to them by many — including SFMP, which helped the country draft the recently adopted National Fisheries Management Plan — the most important change needed is in the behavior of fishermen.
“The fishermen have to change their behavior and also put their trust in others, he says.
Arizi hopes that his wife, whom he married a month before moving to Rhode Island, eventually can join him. Currently, however, his main focus is his studies. “I don’t want to get any Cs, not at all, so I have to work hard,” Arizi says. “My wife keeps on encouraging me to do well.” He is the first member of his family to go to college; however, he hopes his six siblings can follow his lead.
Though Arizi says that working to excel in his five classes often means waking up early in the morning and staying up late at night, he likes graduate school.
“God has done a lot for me, because of all my friends who started out in school at the same time, I’m the only one who made it to this level,” Arizi says. “I like education; knowledge is power.”
If you missed the RI Ocean Special Area Management Plan (Ocean SAMP) celebration of five years of achievements on Tuesday, March 29, you can get up to speed by tuning into the archive of the live stream.
The Ocean SAMP is the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council’s chief regulatory document for managing the uses and resources of Rhode Island’s offshore waters. CRC and Rhode Island Sea Grant are facilitating this meeting and many aspects of the public process.
If you can’t join us at the Coastal Institute on URI’s Bay Campus tonight for a special stakeholder meeting to celebrate the past five years of the Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan (Ocean SAMP), stay in the loop via live stream. Visit the Rhode Island Sea Grant You Tube page to tune in.
For hundreds of years, people have harvested quahogs from Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, for sustenance and income. This video gives you a first-hand glimpse into this iconic New England way of life with quahogger Dave Andrade. CRC worked closely with this community and a broad range of stakeholders to develop Rhode Island’s first Shellfish Management Plan.