Wessley Merten is Executive Director of the Beyond Our Shores Foundation. The Beyond Our Shores Foundation was founded to conserve and enhance marine fisheries and ocean habitats and the coastal communities they support.
Merten is committed to outreach, education, and collaboration with the public, especially fishermen. Under his leadership, the Beyond Our Shores Foundation will integrate the public into fisheries research programs that gather critical scientific information on dolphinfish and related species, fisheries dynamics, and coastal activities that thrive on those resources.
One of those programs is the world renowned Dolphinfish Research Program (DRP). Merten has been engaged in the DRP since 2009 and has published multiple scientific papers on data collected through the program (click here for more information). Merten values the scientific process but also translating science into informative animations and films to educate students and fishermen about the importance of marine science and fisheries research. Merten has become knowledgeable of both domestic and international fisheries management through his research in the Caribbean Sea and western central Atlantic and experience as a 2015 John. A. Knauss Fellow in NOAA Fisheries Office of International Affairs and Seafood Inspection. During that fellowship, Merten was exposed to high level international management of seabirds, sharks, and fish species through multi-lateral, bi-lateral, and inter-governmental meetings around the world. Currently, Merten is the lead on a fish aggregating device research program in the U.S. Caribbean Sea where he is working with a team to implement innovative techniques to study fish and fishery dynamics in order to gather valuable information on a burgeoning fishing practice across the Caribbean Basin. Most recently, Merten was Oceana’s fishery and data analyst for Global Fishing Watch during the process when the technology platform was created and made public and as Global Fishing Watch spun off and evolved into its own nonprofit.
Merten earned a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Puerto Rico, a Master of Science in Marine Science from the University of Puerto Rico, and a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from the University of New England. Most recently, Merten obtained a graduate certificate of professional studies in data science from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Maryland.
Marissa Guzik is a recent graduate (2021) from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and a minor in Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources. Her interest in the marine sciences is focused on conservation and environmental research, as well as finding ways to use her design skills to promote public awareness and involvement in research efforts. As a Fishery and Data Analyst I for the Beyond Our Shores Foundation, her work includes assisting with data analysis of conventional and satellite tagging data, fish aggregating device data, seafood data, website development and design, and promoting collaboration in citizen-driven data collection and engagement in dolphinfish and wahoo tagging, FAD, and seafood industry research.
Abby Grove is majoring in marine biology and plans to add a double major in Aquarium and Aquaculture Sciences at Roger Williams University located in Bristol, Rhode Island. She has been fishing since she was old enough to hold a fishing pole. Abby’s research with the Beyond Our Shores Foundation seeks to update knowledge on international fisheries for dolphinfish within the Western Central Atlantic Ocean. In addition, Abby is helping to create tagging kits so the Beyond Our Shores Foundation can distribute 450 kits in 2022 and increase data collection on dolphinfish as well as promote better angling and conservation practices for the species.
Elaina Giansantti is majoring in marine biology at Roger Williams University located in Bristol, Rhode Island. Elaina’s research with the Beyond Our Shores Foundation seeks to compile information on satellite tagging protocols for medium-bodied pelagic fish and seeks to improve upon those methods to increase data collection and tag retention on tagged individuals. In addition, Elaina is helping to create tagging kits so the Beyond Our Shores Foundation can distribute 450 kits in 2022 and increase data collection on dolphinfish as well as promote better angling and conservation practices for the species.
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