Internship Story: Meghan Borland in Buru, Maluku

16 Sep 2016

From a young age, the ocean fascinated me and led me to seek out opportunities to study aquatic environments. At the same time my passion for helping others drove me to engage and work within communities. As I grew up I maintained my interest in ocean conservation and community support. However, I struggled with how to incorporate both these interests into a field of study. During my Fisheries Management class within the Marine Affairs Program at Dalhousie University, my professor emphasized that “fisheries management is not about managing fish – it’s about managing people.” It was this moment that made it clear that fisheries management is a field that complements both of my passions.

I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to complete my internship at Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia (MDPI) as a part of my Master of Marine Management degree. My internship at MDPI focused on the economic aspect of the Improving Fisheries Information and Traceability for Tuna (IFITT) project. The IFITT project has implemented traceability systems within small-scale tuna fisheries in Indonesia in order to enable sustainable data collection. Traceability requirements are becoming increasingly prevalent in the international seafood market. For example, the Fair Trade USA and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) seafood certification require Chain of Custody. For fisheries, including those in Indonesia, to acquire certification and maintain access to the global market, there is an increasing emphasis on the use and implementation of traceability technology.

The data that I collected during my internship at MDPI will allow for an understanding of the total estimated cost of the IFITT project. This is important for future investors in traceability technology to appreciate when investments in financial and human capital will result in monetary or processing efficiency benefits. To understand processing efficiency benefits a processor timing study that was conducted in both 2014 and 2015 within two tuna processing plants was replicated. This study measures the length of time required to execute each step of the tuna processing sequence, including the traceability aspect of that step. The processor timing data from 2014 and 2015 reflect a paper-based internal traceability system. In contrast, the 2016 data reflects the length of processing following the implementation of Tally-O, a technology-based internal traceability system instituted through the IFITT program.

Using the information I collated during my internship, the IFITT researchers (Wageningen University and Dalhousie University) aim to develop a Return on Investment formula, which will allow investors or supply chain actors willing to ‘go down the traceability technology route’ to make informed financial decisions on investment needed, the length of time before the investment will create a return and some potential efficiencies all of this may create in their daily business.

My experiences as an intern at MDPI, particularly those while working in processing plants and fishing villages, demonstrated the prominent role that fisheries play in providing livelihood in coastal communities. This proved to me the global need for effective fishery management policies and associated traceability technologies to ensure the long-term preservation of fish stocks and livelihoods.

Writer: Meghan Borland

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