World Oceans Day Fellows

Marine Fellowships Open Doors for Careers in Conservation

Written by Paul Dye, Washington Director of Marine Conservation
Photographs by Kara Cardinal, Hershman Marine Policy Fellow

World Oceans Day is an excellent occasion to reflect on how marine conservation and resource management have evolved as career opportunities. Washington Sea Grant and The Nature Conservancy are partners in a program to bring new professionals into these fields through unique fellowships.

For more than 50 years, the State of Washington has been a national leader in public policies to conserve and manage ocean and coastal resources. For instance, the state’s Shoreline Management Act preceded passage of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act by a year, and Washington was the first to achieve a federally approved Coastal Zone Management Program (in 1976).

Washington Sea Grant has built on this legacy by establishing the Marc Hershman Marine Policy Fellowships for graduate students in marine science, law and policy. The fellowship is named after Marc Hershman, a leader in the study of ocean and coastal policy for 30 years, who served on the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and was the Director of the School of Marine Affairs at the University of Washington.

The Nature Conservancy has been an active partner in the program since 2011. Hershman Fellows hosted or funded by the Conservancy have contributed to marine spatial planning, Shoreline Master Programs, habitat conservation, fisheries reform, and oil spill prevention.

At The Nature Conservancy, Hershman Fellows have become essential members of our marine conservation team. The Fellows refresh our ocean policy and science expertise, and they add to our capacity to tackle some of our state’s most pervasive challenges. The one-year term keeps us focused on clear objectives, and our obligation to provide a top drawer educational experience inspires us to open our minds to new learning opportunities. It’s really a win-win arrangement.”

In the past five years, Hershman Fellows sponsored or hosted by the Conservancy have:

  • helped the Washington Department of Ecology initiate marine spatial planning; 
  • gathered public input on marine conservation priorities for Washington’s Pacific Coast; 
  • developed a strategy for preventing marine oil spills by engaging US & Canadian agencies & companies; and 
  • sparked innovations in coastal zone management to deal with the impacts of climate change.

Each of the Fellows sponsored by or hosted by the Conservancy have gone on to launch their careers with the Conservancy or a partner institution.

More information on Hershman Fellowships.