At the Stofnun Vilhjálms Stefánssonar / Stefansson Arctic Institute, one young researcher has been learning how to navigate the policy and legal structures behind fisheries management. Mariana Kapp of the University of Madison-Wisconsin joined the Marine SABRES team in Ísafjörður, Iceland for an Individual Study Project (ISP) for the Spring 2023 semester. Her work manifested in the report "International Agreements and Governance Structures for the Management of Northeast Atlantic Mackerel and Norwegian Spring-Spawning Herring: The Struggle for a Cooperative and Adaptable Management Regime.” We were happy to have her contribution and to support her in her growing career!
Mariana Kapp at Dynjandi waterfall
"When I told my friends and family that I was going to study abroad in Iceland, not a single person questioned it. After a summer vacation with my mom in 2021, I fell in love with the country instantly, despite only seeing a fraction of it. This program was a special opportunity to return to a country that I enjoyed visiting and also learn something completely new.
Back in the United States, I attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in Legal Studies and receiving a minor in Criminal Justice and environmental studies (which I declared only after my time in Iceland). While some people on my program knew exactly what they wanted to research, I genuinely had no idea what I wanted to do for the independent study project. During a meeting with my advisor, Dan, he shared an article with me published in the Guardian called “Iceland accused of putting mackerel stocks at risk by increasing its catch” which initially piqued my interest in learning more about Iceland fish stocks.
What I liked most about the ISP project is that I was able to design a research project that could be tailored to intersect my interests in law and the environment. My project allowed me to discuss and touch on a wide range of topics of political science, public policy, biology, law, and economics. I gained a much deeper understanding of the complexities relating to creating successful fisheries management. I especially had not given much thought about how climate change is complicating these issues further. Learning about the various international agreements, laws, and governance structures relating to the management of mackerel and herring was incredibly interesting. One thing that was especially interesting to me was learning about how many different agreements exist between relevant nations. This was one of the larger challenges I faced when researching current agreements -- there were just so many to look at. This is why I decided to focus on key changes to agreements (a country or countries exiting or joining the agreements). Another thing that I liked about the project was I got to speak with a professor, Magnús Víðisson, at the University of Akureyri. It was really fun to speak with someone who is an expert in this field and to see his personal experience as a local Islander from Hrísey. Lastly, I was shocked and disappointed to learn that countries often don’t follow the advice set by scientific bodies like the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). It really sheds light on countries/nations prioritizing self-interests and gains over the betterment of sustainable fishery management.
My time in Iceland is something that I will never forget. I shared many laughs, had the opportunity to explore so much, challenge my previously held beliefs, and grow as a student much more than I could have ever imagined. Studying abroad is one of the most enriching experiences I have ever had."
We wish you the best of luck in your future career, Mariana!