In the thirteenth instalment in our series of Q&As with Blue Ventures staff, we ask Mialy Andriamahefazafy, our Environmental Policy Specialist, some searching questions about science, conservation and superpowers…
What is your scientific background?
Me? Well, no scientific background at all! I am a trained in-house lawyer. I did 5 years of public law here at the University of Antananarivo then a Masters in Environmental Law abroad. It might seem to some a bit of nonsensical to work for a marine conservation NGO full of very knowledgeable scientists… But actually not! Having someone with a background in environmental law and policy is vital for BV’s work, especially in connection with protected areas and fisheries. That is what makes my work so interesting.
Why do you do what you do?
Why? I love working here in Madagascar, it is a beautiful country, full of opportunities and in so many fields. Although things have been really difficult for the last four years because of the deep political instability, some people are busy with the politics, while others are trying to have things moving. This is mainly why I do what I do, working with BV and trying to improve livelihoods of coastal communities or work on management of resources is my contribution to the development of my country. Of course the fact that we work in the most isolated and beautiful areas of Madagascar, that few of my fellow compatriots will ever see, might also be part of my motivation!
What is the best/worst thing about being a conservation scientist?
The worst thing about being a “policy adviser” is to see a really great and effective project being stuck in its development phase because of administrative procedures or funding restriction.
The best, well as I said I get to work with like-minded people, who want to push Madagascar in the right direction and develop the nation sustainably while improving livelihoods.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
There are so many things I enjoy about my job! I really enjoy listening to members of the local communities we are work with, especially when they explain how they have succeeded in managing their own resources. I also like discovering my own country, working with talented young conservationists and a big plus is speaking English with both my Malagasy and foreign colleagues.
What is your favorite species or group of species and why?
Hum…. Tuna? One of the species I am working on in fisheries policy. It has an incredible economic value for island countries, it is a shared resource with other countries in the Western Indian Ocean and yet very unknown.
What would your science superpower be?
Well, my science superpower would be to actually have the power to currently be a marine scientist while being a lawyer… or maybe to be able to move from one place to another instantly so I could go and work more in our far away fieldworks.
What is one of the strangest things that has happened to you while working on conservation?
I once presented our fisheries policy work at fisheries economics conference. My session was placed in middle of a session about fish tracking technologies. Surprisingly, the audience was really interested in the talk and asked questions – I was surprised that people were so attentive and eager to learn, and of course really pleased.