Today I started as the Walker Conservation Fellow with Georgia Aquarium. As Bobby McCormick of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) said to me recently, it isn’t a job if you love what you do, that’s living. So I guess today I finished my last “job,” and I started “living.”
Growing up in coastal San Diego, I have been fascinated with the marine environment since my earliest days. While I have pursued that passion through education and SCUBA diving, it took until today before I connected my passion with my work. With financial support from the Alex C. Walker Foundation and Georgia Aquarium and concept development and training assistance from PERC, I am going to apply Ecological Economics and Marine Payments for Ecosystem Services (MPES) concepts to reef restoration efforts in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary with the goal of creating a network of actively managed restored reefs whose operations are financially self-sustaining. I will explore feasibility, demonstrate proof of concept to stakeholders, and begin the process of implementing an MPES scheme at a model reef in Florida. My goal is to create a replicable model that, after successful implementation at the initial MPES site, could be used to implement MPES schemes worldwide, restoring reefs to their former conditions and maintaining them as havens of biodiversity.
I’ll be sharing my adventures, trials, and tribulations through this blog, via Twitter @BrettWHowell and LinkedIn (Brett Howell) and Facebook (Brett Howell). If you would like to share the adventure with me, look me up on one of the social media platforms or sign up for new blog posting notifications using the “Join the Mailing List” tab on www.gaiaendeavors.com.