*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.
The sustainability of our ocean fisheries is a topic of concern for many, including environmentalists and fishermen who make their living on the bounty of the sea. It is important to use sustainable fishing practices so that our fisheries are not over-fished leading to a decline in productivity. Some states require fish markets to post information about their fish so that consumers can make informed decisions about which fish to buy. They post the type of fish (e.g., Coho Salmon), the source of the fishery from where it was taken (e.g., Pacific), and whether it is farmed or wild. Consumers can use a rating index, like the one available from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, to make informed choices. Survey your local market for the types of fish and information they provide. Rate each product for sustainability. Which markets offer the most sustainable varieties of fish? Are there markets that frequently offer varieties of fish that do not adhere to sustainable practices? If you have access to a mentor and a molecular biology research facility, you can actually buy and do molecular studies of the fish, to find out if they are what the market claims them to be. You can use molecular data to tell the difference between Chilean sea bass and striped bass, Atlantic salmon or Pacific salmon, etc. Are the markets accurately reporting the types of fish they sell? (Monterey Bay Aquarium, 2006; USDA Forest Service, 2006; WMC, 2006; NPS, 2006; EPA, 2006)
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If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:
Are you passionate about the environment? Do you like developing and implementing new ideas? Do you enjoy talking with people about how humans impact nature? If these things are true about you, then you may be the ideal candidate for a job as a sustainability specialist. Sustainability specialists work in large and small corporations and universities to design and execute energy and resource conservation programs that reduce their employers' impact on the environment. This is a great career for people who enjoy working on teams, are socially responsible, and like to get things done!
Walk by the supermarket's fresh fish counter and you will see a collection of marine ambassadors from around the world. You might see shrimp from Thailand, salmon from Canada, and flounder from the United States of America. Some of the fish is wild, caught by fishermen from the open seas; but these days, a lot of fish and shellfish is farm raised. Aquacultural managers direct operations on farms and fish hatcheries that cultivate ocean and freshwater fish for human consumption, recreation, and research. The field of aquacultural management is an example of biotechnology. It is the intersection of biology, chemistry, and cutting-edge technical equipment.
Do you enjoy going to the ocean? Do you like examining all of the marine creatures in tide pools? Do you read up on the different kinds of ocean mammals and fish for fun? If this is the case, then you may be the right fit for a career as a marine biologist. Marine biology is the study of ocean aquatic organisms, their behaviors, and their interactions with the environment. Because this field of study is an intersection of zoology, biology, and technology, marine biologists can apply their knowledge in many different ways.
What do the sequencing of the human genome, the annual production of millions of units of life-saving vaccines, and the creation of new drought-tolerant rice varieties have in common? They were all accomplished through the hard work of biological technicians. Scientists may come up with the overarching plans, but the day-to-day labor behind biotech advances is often the work of skilled biological technicians.
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