29 July 2021: Blog – My Time at NAMMCO
My name is Nicolai Pilgård Scherdin and I have had the pleasure of spending the past 6 months as an intern at the NAMMCO Secretariat. Being a Danish Biology MSc student, I had first encountered NAMMCO during a university course on marine mammals, where utilisation was discussed. Conservation has always been a very interesting topic to me and management obviously plays a major role in the conservation of marine mammals. So when I learned that the NAMMCO Secretariat had an internship programme, it seemed natural to pursue such an exciting opportunity to learn more about the internal workings of such a key organisation.
In addition to my interest in everything marine mammals, living in the Arctic has been a lifelong dream of mine and I had only ever heard positive things about Tromsø and Northern Norway. After speaking to the members of the Secretariat, I instantly felt very excited about pursuing this chance!
I arrived in Tromsø at the end of January only days after the sun had started to rise again and, within an hour of my arrival, I had seen northern lights for the first time in my life! Coming from Denmark at a time with a high number of covid-19 cases, I spent the first ten days of my stay in quarantine. However, my new colleagues made me feel welcome and part of the team from the get-go. The 27th Meeting of the Scientific Committee had just passed the week before I arrived, and one of my first tasks was preparing a draft Executive Summary based on the final report.
During my time at NAMMCO, I was fortunate to attend important meetings such as the 28th Annual Meeting, two meetings of the Committee on Hunting Methods (CHM), as well as fascinating external meetings such as a NORDECO meeting on Arctic User Knowledge. I had various tasks for these different events, including aiding Deputy Secretary Charlotte Winsnes as rapporteur for the CHM meetings, setting up the technical platforms, preparing various documents, and supporting the Secretariat staff in general.
I also had the pleasure of co-organising the third Annual Marine Mammal Student Symposium with the previous NAMMCO Intern and Scientific and Communication Assistant, Mana Tugend. The symposium was, for the first time, jointly arranged by NAMMCO and the Norwegian Centre for the Law of the Sea. Exchanging different perspectives on the conservation of marine mammals with people from other backgrounds has been one of the most interesting aspects of my stay.
My main task while working at the NAMMCO Secretariat has been to write a review of recent knowledge available to inform stock assessments of bearded seals in the North Atlantic. This project has given me a chance to expand my knowledge of a species that I am very passionate about. It has also allowed me to extend my network to include key people in the field, as well as giving me an impression on what kind of work goes into writing such a review. My supervisor, Scientific Secretary Fern Wickson, as well as General Secretary Genevieve Desportes, have both been incredibly valuable resources in passing on their experience of writing scientific literature throughout this project.
Coming from a background in Biology, adapting my language to suit communication with people from different backgrounds and interests has been one of the biggest challenges for me. This was especially the case when communicating through social media, such as the weekly Fun Fact Friday posts on Facebook. Being co-responsible for organising the Student Symposium was also completely new territory for me, although I found it to be very interesting and I am very keen to continue arranging similar events and look forward to doing so in a world where it is possible meet face-to-face.
Something I am certain many people can attest to, being abroad in covid-19 times has been a challenge, since visiting family and friends has not been possible. Thankfully, my colleagues at the Secretariat have all been incredibly friendly and supportive, and I have made several friends in Tromsø that I look forward to visiting in the future.
Life in Tromsø
Wow! Being a non-native English speaker, I do not have the vocabulary to do Tromsø justice. It is a beautiful city located in a beautiful part of the world. Discovering the nature in Northern Norway has been a highlight during my stay and many nights have been spent in cold tents and around campfires on some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. My colleagues even took me skiing for the first time in my life and, despite spending more time on my back than on my feet, I am really happy that I had that experience!
As a city, Tromsø has several fantastic restaurants, cosy pubs and activities such as a climbing hall, kayak clubs, saunas and much more. There is a large international community and there is always something to do and people to do it with here.
If you are interested in becoming the next intern at the NAMMCO Secretariat in beautiful Tromsø, the next deadline for applications will be 01/04/2022. For more information, visit the following link.