Alan Lovewell, a former West Coast Sea Grant Fellow, has taken the road less travelled, and it has made all the difference.
An art major in college, who speaks Mandarin Chinese and Indonesian, Lovewell was recently awarded a 2-year, $100,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to expand Local Catch Monterey Bay.
The business, which he co-founded and now manages, helps fishermen in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties sell their catches directly to the public.
“Food is important and empowering,” said Lovewell, who is an avid surfer and self-described former beach bum, who was a bike mechanic and sailing instructor after graduating from college in 2005. “It’s an issue of the time. We are getting people to recognize that seafood does not come from the grocery store. It’s caught by a fisherman, and it was an animal that had a life in the ocean.”
The Fisheries Innovation Fund grant will let him and his colleagues at Local Catch develop a strategy to help emerging community fishing associations, fishing cooperatives and “risk pools” distribute their seafood to neighboring communities. He will also be looking to create metrics of sustainability that could be implemented into an expanded business model.
“We are asking how and whether we can affect a larger population, while maintaing core values of connecting consumers to fishermen and the resource,” he explained.
Lovewell was one of four recipients of the West Coast Sea Grant Fellowships, created by the four West Coast Sea Grant programs to support the objectives of the West Coast Governors Alliance on Ocean Health (WCGA).
For his fellowship (2011-2013), he focused on integrating NOAA and WCGA Integrated Ecosystem Assessments (IEA) initiatives for the California Current ecosystem. IEAs describe an ecosystem, assess its current condition, and forecast its future health.
He earned his master’s degree in international environmental policy, with a concentration in marine conservation, from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in 2010, and says he became attracted to fisheries issues while teaching sailing on the Sea of Cortez with the National Outdoor Leadership School.
Written by Christina S. Johnson