We Meet the Fleet, now let’s meet the best scientists

Jul 26, 2022 | Over the Bar

over the bar

By John Pappalardo

One of our great, fun community successes in recent years has been regular “Meet the Fleet” events, when we pull together fishermen and chefs to share the experience of being on the water, offer insights into different species landed locally, and present a creative transformation of work and fish into beautiful cuisine.

That got me to thinking:

How about we grow the concept, and create a second ongoing series that tries to do similar things but this time with amazing people who explore the biggest ideas of the ocean world, and how they apply to our small corner of it? Put Cape Cod and the fisheries into scientific context, this time with plates full of ideas?

This initiative wouldn’t supplant “Meet the Fleet” by any means, that’s a winner and we’re sticking with it. But it could be a great new offering, fitting squarely into the thinking behind the name of this emagazine you’re checking out, “Small Boats. Big Ideas.”

So on August 15 we’re launching a new speaker series and calling it Small Boats. Big Science. Our goals: Introduce our community to the best scientific thinkers we know, many of them colleagues in projects over time, to share understandings of the ocean, how it works, how technology and deep research become part of the solutions we all desire, how fishing effort and a responsible, independent fishing fleet link to best science as part of a very big picture.

Our first guests and speakers fit that bill wonderfully.

Dr. Jennifer Francis from the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Falmouth is a cutting edge scientist and leader in identifying climate change. A lot of her focus has been on one part of the globe that seems to be showing it most dramatically, the Arctic.

Joining her will be Dr. Glen Gawarkiewicz, also working out of Falmouth at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. His work often keeps him in our regional waters, exploring and modeling ocean currents off New England.

The combination will take us from macro to micro, big trends to specific impacts in our fishing community. Speaking of which, we’re hoping and expecting to have fishermen on hand who can relate these findings and concepts back to our harbors, our fleet, our future.

The driving questions will always be the same:

How do we translate the best, hard research into ideas that are understandable, accessible, and useful? How do science and technology become part of the solutions we need as the world keeps changing and offering new challenges? And how can we as a community engage in policy and advocacy?

We’re already thinking about future sessions that will explore ocean acidification and its impact on the valuable scallop harvest, aquaculture and how it can help keep a local fishing community intact without big habitat impacts, even ways that tiny sand lance and other forage fish fit into the big picture and need to be better understood.

If all this sounds a little esoteric, I guarantee that the people sharing their insights are fascinating, great communicators, and put their understanding and expertise into terms and examples we all can appreciate. They connect crucial dots, from research vessels to labs, ocean bottom to the atmosphere, microscopes to fishing nets, the swirl of the world to the work of our ports.

Interested in joining the conversation? Sign up on our website,   or drop a quick email to Rachel Barrales, [email protected].


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