Blog: My time at NAMMCO

In the Lyngen Alps (Blåisvatnet)

Background

My name is Mana Tugend and I have been working at the NAMMCO Secretariat for the past year – nine months as an intern and the following three as Scientific and Communication Assistant.

My first contact with NAMMCO occurred during my studies in Polar Law in Iceland. I was taught about the Arctic Council and its observers, including NAMMCO. Having long been interested in the conservation and management of marine mammals, I read more about the Commission’s work. I quickly got interested in reading about marine mammals as a sustainable food resource. After my studies in Iceland and a curriculum oriented towards law and social sciences, I came across the internship opportunity at NAMMCO and thought it was the perfect opportunity to apply my knowledge of polar issues and expand my knowledge in natural sciences.

Plus, I had always wanted to discover the beautiful city of Tromsø. I had lived in Norway, in Bodø, for a semester as part of my studies and knew that I would be back in this country at some point, just further north.

About my internship

Well, I wasn’t able to discover Tromsø as soon as I thought. I was supposed to start my internship at the end of March 2020, but was then unable to cross the Norwegian border as Covid-19 had started. I was lucky to be able to begin working at the Secretariat remotely from France in April 2020. Although the situation was peculiar and unusual , the team of the NAMMCO Secretariat immediately made me feel like a valued member and trusted me with performing various tasks, including copy-editing scientific publications, updating the website, creating the Fun Fact Friday posts on our Facebook page, as well as preparing for and participating in several meetings and working groups.

During my time at NAMMCO, I have for example attended the 27th meeting of the Scientific Committee and the 28th Annual Meeting. For these meetings, I helped as a rapporteur and provided general support to the Secretariat staff. Attending such meetings provided an opportunity to have a closer look at the process by which scientific research and results become policy advice.

I also had the pleasure of co-organising the third annual Marine Mammal Student Symposium with the current NAMMCO intern, Nicolai Scherdin. In 2021, the overall focus of this Symposium was the interaction between scientific and legal perspectives in the management of marine mammals in the Arctic. For the first time this Symposium was jointly arranged by NAMMCO and the Norwegian Centre for the Law of the Sea, and due to Covid-restrictions, was held online. Students and early career marine mammal scientists from around the globe were invited to come together and share their work through presentations and discussions.

I learned a lot while working at the NAMMCO Secretariat. The position has particularly given me great insight into the work that goes into running an intergovernmental organisation.

Challenges

The Lyngen Alps

It was definitely challenging to start my internship remotely and learn how to use the various tools required to perform the work requested. Having a social sciences background, I also had to get accustomed to new terminology specific to research focusing on marine mammals. Fortunately, my colleagues have always been supportive and I always felt like I could ask for help.

Living in Tromsø

I enjoyed every part of living in Tromsø, from the long polar nights with northern lights in the winter to the never-ending sunny days in the summer. Tromsø is a beautiful city, surrounded by mountains, that has so much to offer to an outdoor enthusiast like myself. I arrived during the summer and have been hiking on Kvaløya, Senja and Lyngen. In the winter, the main activities I have enjoyed are skiing and snowshoeing.

In addition, Tromsø also has a vibrant city life that I have been able to experience despite the Covid outbreak.

Would you like to be the next intern at NAMMCO? The next deadline for applying for an internship is the 1st of May 2021. For more information follow the link here.

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