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Ocean Currents

Presenting Our New Podcast — Fish & Us

New podcast spotlights climate and fisheries stories from the waterfront

Rafeed Fish
© Rafeed Hussain

I know close to nothing about fishing. The practice of fishing, that is. If you gave me a fishing rod or put me on a fishing vessel, my hands would feel disoriented with the equipment. It would be like telling me to get behind a steering wheel at fifteen years old. I’m a self-proclaimed daughter of the ocean, but for me, that connection has come from sitting on the beach or swimming.

And so, I worried when I joined Ocean Conservancy as a RAY Fellow focused on fisheries policy that I was too far out of my depth. I asked myself, “What does this have to do with me? Do I belong here?” Fisheries policy can be wonky, technical and nuanced. A lot of it didn’t come intuitively to me at first. Awash in a sea of new acronyms, I was taking in a whole new language.

But there are a few things I did know coming into this new space. I know how to be curious. I know how to read, both text and the room. I’ve been inquisitive since my mom introduced me to this magical place called the Chicago Public School Library. I know that I want to learn and listen, that I get to experience life and its lessons and share them with other people. And I know that I am drawn to stories, which I believe hold most of human wisdom and can transcend any linear construct of time.

As I dug into the work, it was the stories that drew me in. The people and communities that fish, and the scientists and managers that work with them, have a deep connectedness to marine ecosystems, and they have a passion for those places and fish that resonates deeply with me and my own story.

I know the world through my feet. They are drawn closer to soil and sand than they are to concrete. I know the world through my eyes. They have seen California droughts, Chicago blizzards and O‘ahu’s shifting landscapes. I trust that the environment is built in our bones and is everything we are.

The people I spoke with about fishing shared the same sensory language of place, meaning and purpose. And they all shared a concern about the future of fishing with climate change bearing down.

Rafeed Fish2
© Nicole Dornsife/ Rafeed Hussain
Fish & Us: Climate Stories from the Waterfront is a series of recorded interviews and stories about the impacts of climate change on marine fisheries, as told by the people who spend their days catching, managing and researching fish from the ocean. I talk with fishermen, researchers, policy experts, managers and everyday people that make fisheries what they are. As climate change hastens to seep into every corner of our lives, impacting the way we eat, the way we migrate, the way we ensure that fish are here from our ancestors to our descendants, this podcast calls attention to climate impacts on fisheries that are already affecting our lives.

My care for community and my love for telling stories and writing, mixed with my ecstatic curiosity for fisheries policy, is why I am here as the host of Fish & Us. Almost two years into my fellowship, I learned there is room—and need—for all of us to engage in fisheries policy. I found myself entranced by how fisheries represent this interconnected web: the fish, the people and relationships, and the ocean environment. Whether it’s through fishing or communing at the dinner table, most of us are connected to fish and to fishermen. And we should care deeply that fish and fishing are changing—have changed—because of climate change.

Fishing poles along a dock
© Rafeed Hussain

For this first installment of the podcast, I met with four incredible individuals: three fishermen and one fisheries manager. I loved every minute with them. They shared with me their core identities, their upbringing, their homes, their memories with and dreams for loved ones, their life work, their observations of climate impacts, their disbelief and their hope.

Fish are valuable to each other, to us and to our ecosystems. When you throw climate change into the mix, their health and resilience are compromised, and can compromise the means of sustenance and living for communities that depend on fish. Our podcast guests taught me that some fish are having to find new homes, some fish are experiencing disruptions in decades-old patterns of wildlife interactions, some fish are decreasing in productivity and their metabolisms are changing, and some fish are experiencing more than a single shift due to climate change.

Tony, Dave, Michele and Hannah presented these challenges but ultimately made me return to the words of Mariame Kaba: “Hope is a discipline.” They taught me that it takes and will take hard decisions to prioritize climate in a fisheries management system with a track record of success but room for improvement. They expressed that when we work with the beauty of our multiple roles and differences, we are better and stronger together. These are the stories that helped me find my place in fisheries policy. I hope that this podcast helps you see your connections as well, as it takes all of us to fight for a healthy ocean for all of us who depend on it.

Fish & Us: Climate Stories from the Waterfront is available on Apple Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Spotify, and most major podcast streaming platforms.

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