UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page UBC Home Page -
News Events Directories Search UBC myUBC Login
- -
UBC Public Affairs
UBC Reports
UBC Reports Extras
Goal / Circulation / Deadlines
Letters to the Editor & Opinion Pieces / Feedback
UBC Reports Archives
Media Releases
Services for Media
Services for the Community
Services for UBC Faculty & Staff
Find UBC Experts
Search Site

UBC Reports | Vol. 51 | No. 6 | Jun. 2, 2005

Duo Share Conservation Research, Friendship

By Brian Lin

Sarah Foster and Amanda Vincent went on a six-hour bus ride in February 2004 in search of the perfect margarita, having been disappointed by the uninspiring big-box hotel and littered beach in Mazatlan, Mexico, the site of a United Nations technical workshop on ensuring sustainable international trade in seahorses.

“We finally found the perfect margarita,” says Foster, who is Vincent’s PhD student at UBC’s Fisheries Centre. “But not before meandering through mangrove swamps and past crocodiles. Then we went for a swim not 10 metres from them.”

Despite the detour, Foster and Vincent, Canada Research Chair in Marine Conservation and director of the world-renowned Project Seahorse, wowed an international audience of delegates with their research on seahorse biology, trade and conservation. They have been working for several years toward successful management of the world’s trade in seahorses under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The Convention, which addresses species whose trade must be controlled in order to ensure their survival, voted in November 2002 to include seahorses as a regulated species. The decision, which took effect in May 2004, made seahorses the first fully marine fish species of commercial importance to be listed in CITES and -- with more than 25 million seahorses a year moving among at least 75 nations -- represent the most volume.

The two first met when Foster introduced Vincent as a guest speaker at her old high school in 1998, but got to know each other when Vincent hired Foster as a research assistant for Project Seahorse in 2001, after her stint as a volunteer on the team’s field research in the Philippines.

“I probably wasn’t the best candidate when it came to the technical aspect of the work,” says Foster, whose PhD work involves the bycatch of small fish species in tropical shrimp trawl fisheries. “Amanda took a chance on me and her trust made me feel really good about myself. I’ve been given more opportunities in the last three years than perhaps many would have gotten in 15 years in the working world -- and I came out of it with a great friend.”

“The biggest contribution I’ve made to Sarah is probably eliminating the word ‘like’ from her sentences,” laughs Vincent, who adds that Foster’s ability to communicate complex ideas clearly is a testament of her significant growth both academically and personally.

Vincent says she has also benefited greatly from the relationship. “As a project leader, you face a lot of challenges, so it’s important to know that people in the team, like Sarah, share your values and are working with you toward a common goal.”

“Sarah’s special strength is her ability to remain kind even when she’s under enormous pressure,” says Vincent. “As her advisor, I need to give her unstinting support without taking away her opportunity to rise to the challenge -- which she always does.”

- - -  

Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

to top | UBC.ca » UBC Public Affairs

UBC Public Affairs
310 - 6251 Cecil Green Park Road, Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z1
tel 604.822.3131 | fax 604.822.2684 | e-mail public.affairs@ubc.ca

© Copyright The University of British Columbia, all rights reserved.