North Carolina Sea Grant

August 22, 2014 | Sara Mirabilio

Young Sara Mirabilio hugging dolphin statue.

Sara, age 4, hugging a dolphin statue at Miami Seaquarium, Fla. Photo by Robert Mirabilio.

My passion for the ocean has existed since I first started forming solid memories. This passion carried through my childhood all the way to Long Island University’s Southampton College, where I majored in marine science, and on still further to William & Mary’s School of Marine Science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, where I earned a master’s in marine science.

If you had asked me at age 12 what I wanted to be, it would’ve been dolphin trainer or sea turtle biologist.  But, the ocean’s deeper meaning “clicked” inside of me during college; there exists a legacy of hundreds of years of harvesting the bounty of the seas and creating coastal communities and maritime traditions.  How do we strike the balance between economy and resource protection?

I tried my hand at Washington, D.C. policy-making as a National Sea Grant Office John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow.  I quickly turned in my business suits and high-heels for oilskins and flip-flops, joining North Carolina Sea Grant in August 2003 as a fisheries extension specialist in their Manteo Office.  Despite local ecological knowledge being of high interest to public policy, I was frustrated by the lack of research integrating the knowledge of stakeholders.

My work objective, and that also of my blog posts, is to establish communications and cultures conducive to shared problem-solving.  I strive to work with all users of our marine fisheries resource towards a governance structure that helps link research with policy outcomes, while at the same time resonating directly with stakeholders and allowing them continuance of their maritime livelihoods.

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