What they’re into … with Mark Gibson (Breaching the Blue)

This is a series I’ve been featuring each Tuesday this summer to get a special sneak peek at the different personalities behind the scientists, activists, and educators (including bloggers) who play an integral role in the marine science conservation field. It’s essentially an extension of the overwhelmingly popular and well done Tumblr blog, This Is What A Scientist Looks Like, (BCS was featured in April!) which sets out to illustrate that scientists are not just crazy haired nerds in lab coats. I’ve sent a list of 15 random questions and asked that each person share at least their answers to 5 of them. Here’s what Mark Gibson had to say.

Mark at Ted Turner’s Flying D Ranch, a model ranch in terms of species conservation and land restoration.

Mark runs Breaching the Blue, a website on the “politics, economics, and human dimensions of the global ocean”.  He says you can think of it as a sort of ‘digital nerdery’ – a place and space to tinker with ideas on ocean conservation and politics. These days he spends a lot of time thinking on how we might rebuild fish stocks through innovations in fishing rights and reduce illegal fishing through the application of criminological theory.

He studied international affairs at Johns Hopkins SAIS in Washington, DC, and tailored his coursework to look at marine policy.  He sees this as a perfect example of how you don’t need to go to a ‘blue’ school to do ocean work. In fact, the combination of a more traditional international security education with ocean affairs led to his tackling of a lot of interesting issues, from the political economy of MPA selection to the international law that would govern displaced island nations.

After graduating, Mark worked at Oceana and the Pew Environment Group.  This led him to some interesting work, from evaluating the damages to fishermen after the Deepwater Horizon Spill to a full-scale policy analysis of Europe’s deep-sea fishing. A major interest of his is helping the NGO world better use all the great economic data out there.  Why work so hard to make moral arguments when so much of the ocean could be protected on economic grounds alone?  He continues to work in ocean conservation in DC, but spares us the details to maintain his independence.

In the long term, Mark hopes to have his own consulting practice that would analyze the economics of fisheries crime and efficacy of enforcement activities.  The aim would be to offer a knowledge product that would a) increase the efficiency of enforcement efforts, b) increase the value of fishery access rights, and c) improve overall conservation. He’s now exploring how he might go about that.

Outside of oceans, Mark spends his spare time rock climbing, practicing pop psychology as a Myers-Briggs enthusiast, and promoting the slightly eccentric diet and lifestyle known as ‘Paleo’.

What is the last thing you bought that you shouldn’t have?
More books. I’ve committed myself to not expanding the Gibson library until the end of the summer.

What is your favorite fruit flavor?

What is your favorite Sunday breakfast?
Avocado and mushroom scramble with a grass-fed beef patty, fresh berries, and artisanal coffee.

What’s your favorite midnight snack?
Almond butter.

Are you a night owl or a morning person?
Morning person.

What is your favorite room in your home?
The basement.  I have a ‘Bat Cave’ with a small library and a large cache of climbing gear, diving equipment, and other outdoor paraphernalia.

Which sitcom character do you relate to?
I relate equally to Ron Swanson and Chris Traeger from Parks and Recreation. Go figure.

What is your favorite scent?
Fresh coconut.

What is your favorite sundae topping?
I don’t eat ice cream, but it would probably be dark chocolate or raspberries.

What is your favorite pastime?
Scuba diving.  The best job I ever had was as a divemaster in the Bay Islands.

What three things would you take with you to an island?
A sea kayak, a tent, and a bottle of hard cider.

How superstitious are you?
Not at all.

What is your favorite day of the week?

Are you a cat person, dog person, or neither?
Dog person.

If you were a geometric shape, what would you like to be?
An octagon.

What’s some other random favorite information about you?
Favorite blogs: Marginal Revolution and the Dan Ariely Blog.
Music: Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, and Steve Earle
Movies: The Life Aquatic, Moon, 3:30 to Yuma
What I’m reading: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Why People Obey the Law, Managing Small-Scale Fisheries: Alternative Directions and Methods, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, and The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communication

Thanks to Mark for participating in this questionnaire and I hope you’re finding time to get through that library. Check out the other great folks that contributed to the “What they’re into …” series this summer.


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