Alumniverhaal

Mariëlle - More to Sea

Mariëlle graduated from her master’s Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management with the specialisation Marine Governance. After graduation, she decided to embark on a journey called "More to Sea".

I’m realizing that I can combine an academic career with art and social movement work.

How did you decide to go on this journey?

"After my studies I wanted to have a break, I needed to travel. But as I can’t sit still I decided that a question was needed as basis for my trip. This question is: 'What keeps you up at night?'. With this question, I created the journey that I’m now on: 'More to Sea'."

What do you do during your trip?

"I travel along the coast of the Netherlands, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece to interview small-scale fishers. The interviews are open: I try to read the person and search for emotion, this is when I find the topic of the interview. Some fishers are very down to earth, very passionate about their job, very lively. Others want to talk about troubles they face with for instance EU regulation, decreasing fish stocks, or competition. I combine their stories with photos and publish these on my website (www.moretosea.nl) and social media."

Iker’s wish for better organization: ‘’We small-scale fishers are pretty well organized within the village. Regionally we’re not, but it’s important to be. In regional policy meetings we’re always the losers. I don’t know how to change this.’’ (Iker, Lekeitio, Basque Country, Spain)
Iker’s wish for better organization: ‘’We small-scale fishers are pretty well organized within the village. Regionally we’re not, but it’s important to be. In regional policy meetings we’re always the losers. I don’t know how to change this.’’ (Iker, Lekeitio, Basque Country, Spain)

What is the goal of More to Sea?

"The goal of my project is to shed more light on 'what’s a fisher' and create a more colourful image of this way of life. Small-scale fishers face many issues. The most pressing one is that it becomes harder and harder for them to continue their work and find successors. Especially (EU) policies and competition with the big fishing industry make their livelihoods uncertain. Many small-scale fishers face difficulties with one-species management, such as quotas. Ecosystem-based management seems more suitable. Small-scale fishers also have less access to, and power in the EU than the industrial fleets. This makes legislation more applicable to the industrial fishers than the small-scale ones. Because I believe that diversity is beautiful, I want to show these people and how important fishing is to them. Maybe this project can trigger a stronger movement against the loss of culture."

Do you get paid for your journey?

"No, this travel is unpaid, but I see it as a deep investment in my career. Firstly, I’m growing personally because I learn to better understand local realities; I improve my research, social and creative skills; and I discover my passions. Secondly, because I meet a lot of people in the field, and I can show them my interests and potential. I’m slowly realizing that I can have a career in which I follow an academic path together with art and social movement work. Combining the creative, the social, the hands-on practical, and the intellectual."

Magdalena's freedom: ‘’It’s wonderful to work here! The nature is beautiful and I don’t have to work in an office. I feel free outside!’’ (Magdalena, Cedeira, Galicia, Spain)
Magdalena's freedom: ‘’It’s wonderful to work here! The nature is beautiful and I don’t have to work in an office. I feel free outside!’’ (Magdalena, Cedeira, Galicia, Spain)

How did studying at Wageningen University & Research prepare you for your career?

"WUR gave me the freedom to always choose subjects that were interesting to me. I did a Free Bachelor Program where I combined biology with nature conservation, marine governance, policy and social sciences. In my masters, I continued to follow my interests and I focussed on business, trade, and anthropology of fisheries. I’m educated in a highly interdisciplinary way, which I love. Because I am trained as a generalist, this education enabled me to see the bigger picture. At the local level I can talk with fishers about climate change, governance, politics, fisheries, economics, and wellbeing. At the same time, I have a global understanding of these topics too. This, plus a close connection with great teachers who’ve inspired me majorly, is what’s made WUR a special place for me."