Staff Spotlight: Amy Kenworthy – OARS Project Manager
31 October 2023
Amy will support delivery of the OARS programme - building on the work from the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON). The innovative programme has been endorsed by the UN Ocean Decade, and will specifically address the Sustainable Development Goal indicator 14.3.1: "Minimize and address the impacts of Ocean Acidification (OA), including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels".
What is the Ocean Acidification Research for Sustainability programme?
The OARS programme aims to provide systematic evidence of the impacts of ocean acidification on the sustainability of marine ecosystems, enhance ocean acidification capacity, increase observations of ocean chemistry changes, enhance the communication to policy makers and communities by providing the information needed to mitigate and adapt to ocean acidification, and to facilitate the development and evaluation of strategies to offset future impacts.
[Source: GOA-ON website]
And, what better time to find out more about Amy and her role as OARS Project Manager than this Ocean Acidification Week 2023?
We first gave Amy a warm welcome to the laboratory, and then asked her if she could tell us a little about her background and studies that led her to work on environmental issues.
“Thank you! So, I’ve been passionate about the ocean for as long as I can remember, and while I initially aspired to be a marine biologist, I decided to travel and live abroad before committing to a degree. This experience exposed me to a range of environmental roles and issues, from diving and marine conservation, to combating plastic waste at festivals - all of which interested me.”
Above: A remarkable photo taken by Amy during a scuba trip – a whale sighting in NSW, Australia.
“I then decided to study Environmental Management and Sustainability, as I wanted to gain transferable skills to work on such a range of environmental issues. One of the most useful skills I learned during my undergraduate degree was systems thinking, which is a way of making sense of the complexity of the world by considering the overall system, as well as its individual parts and relationships within it. It is a way to identify the root causes of problems and see new opportunities to develop effective action in complex contexts, enabling systems change.”
“A year after graduating, I had worked on numerous environmental projects and became aware of the need for better science communication and more effective communication and collaboration between scientists, governments, organisations, and the public. There is an abundance of scientific knowledge that is available, but it is often unsuccessfully communicated, or misinterpreted - hindering progress as a result.”
“To bridge this gap, I embarked on an MSc. in Science Communication at UWE Bristol. This programme not only deepened my proficiency in communication, but also heightened my awareness of critical issues pertaining to inclusivity, equity, and diversity within the realm of science communication.”
“Following graduation, I travelled to Portugal and ran an NGO focusing on tackling the issue of abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear (often referred to as ghost gear or ghost nets) alongside other dedicated volunteers.”
Above: Amy pictured by the sea near Setúbal, Portugal.
“Through this work, I started consulting on a partnership between Allianz and Sea Shepherd which focused on ghost gear in the Mediterranean Sea.”
Above: A turtle caught in ghost fishing gear. [Source: Allianz website] Allianz support the marine conservation organisation Sea Shepherd in environmental and animal protection in the Mediterranean Sea.
“I was later offered an internship with Allianz in their Sustainable Operations team and helped manage their Sea Shepherd partnership. I also helped the Uganda Junior Rangers set up a project called the Lake Victoria Cleanup Project and worked with them remotely as a consultant, as well as help manage the international team which at the time consisted of the Uganda Junior Rangers, environmental scientists, consultants and engineers. The project aims to tackle the fishing gear pollution in Lake Victoria through education and community outreach, as well as hopes to transform fishing gear waste into useful products for the community.”
“I’m grateful for all of these experiences, which have helped me to develop the skills required for my new role as OARS Project Manager. I was thrilled to accept this position, as it allows me to combine my passion for science communication with working on improving efficiency, collaboration and the impact of projects.”
The OARS Project Manager role has been created recently to support the aims of OARS, and we commented that, as with any newly-created position, it must be exciting for Amy to influence and shape it. We next asked her if she could tell us a little more about what her job involves, and whether she had any personal aspirations she could tell us about.
“I’m excited by the opportunity to not only help raise more awareness around ocean acidification and its impacts, but also empower people to take action. We are three years into the UN Ocean Decade, and I have joined OARS just as the seven OARS white papers are about to be published, which will provide society with a roadmap to illuminate and mitigate the impacts of ocean acidification. This is our moment to step up and influence the trajectory of ocean acidification.”
“We will need to engage with all stakeholders to affect lasting change. I hope to provide the support needed to ensure that we bridge the gap between science and action, and make the available scientific evidence easily accessible to all stakeholders. Whilst we require continued research to better understand ocean acidification, it is vital that we start putting the knowledge that we have to use. My role is to connect the dots and help facilitate better knowledge exchange.”
“I am also the focal point for OARS external communications and dissemination activities. I will be joining OARS working group 6 ‘Public Awareness’ and am also developing our outreach strategy to reach a diverse audience, be that scientists, the public, or decision makers. In fact, we have just announced our new initiative, the OARS Commitments, during our Ocean Acidification week webinar on the 30th of October - which will empower more people to engage with OARS and each other. Keep an eye out for this and more on our social media channels (Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook).”
OARS has presented 7 targeted outcomes for the decade to achieve the success we need to better address ocean acidification. We next asked Amy if she could tell us how her work will support these outcomes.
Above: The 7 Targeted Outcomes for OARS [Source: GOA-ON website]
“My aim is to support communication within and between the 7 OARS Outcomes, their co-champions, and working groups, to ensure we are continually building on our knowledge and exchanging it with others. I will also help facilitate the creation, publication and wide dissemination of the OARS Outcome white papers, making sure they reach all the right people and can guide others in their actions towards tackling ocean acidification.”
We feel like the role of OARS Project Manager couldn’t have fallen into safer hands with Amy, and we’re really excited to see the OARS Programme move from strength to strength.
We based our next couple of questions around getting to know Amy and to find out what she enjoys doing when ‘off the clock’. We first asked her if she had any hobbies or interests she could tell us about.
“Although I grew up in the mountains in Germany, I always felt a pull to the sea. I started scuba diving when I was 16, and when I turned 19, I spent three months at Marine Conservation Philippines undertaking a Dive Master qualification, before completing my instructor qualification in Indonesia.”
“Since being back in the UK, I’ve fallen in love with freediving. You need much less equipment (and money!) to go, and the underwater world here is beautiful in the shallows.”
Above: Amy freediving with friends in Cornwall
“Surfing has also been a big part of my life since I was 18, and I’d actually say it changed the trajectory of my life. On a surf trip to Indonesia I became aware of the amount of plastic in the ocean, but then also realised that everything I was using to surf was terrible for the environment; from the surfboard I was riding, to the wax I was using, to the wetsuit I wore and the leash I used, and even the sunscreen I put on. They were all made of fossil fuels and toxic chemicals and would end up in landfill or incinerators, or worse - the environment.”
Above: Amy surfing in Cornwall
“During my last year in Australia, I decided to try and make better products more accessible to people. I started an online eco surfshop selling a few select items which have a lower environmental impact.”
“Unfortunately, due to many injuries, I couldn’t surf for a long time, so I picked up a camera and fell in love with surf photography and underwater photography and making little films.”
Above: Another incredible photo from Amy, a rippled wave that looks so perfect it almost doesn’t look real!
“During my recovery, I also learnt to sew, and when I moved back to England, I started to make surfboard bags out of upcycled fabrics and changing towels out of secondhand towels. It felt good to be able to make small changes to help the environment, and even supported me with a little side income whilst at university!”
Above: Amy with one of her upcycled surfboard bags
“My friend also got me into sailing a few years ago, and I made a snap decision at the start of the year to buy a sailing yacht, which has been a steep learning curve but brings me so much joy! In winter, when it’s too dark to do much outside in the evenings, I’ll be tinkering away on that. I also enjoy a bit of indoor climbing after work."
Above: Amy sailing with a friend in Devon.
Above: Amy on-board her yacht, a 22ft Snapdragon 670 called Tuppence.
We’re a little bit amazed at the breadth of Amy’s experiences and interests! Our final question to Amy was to ask what she enjoys about living and working in Plymouth: Britain’s Ocean City.
“I had never lived in a city before I came to Plymouth for my undergraduate degree, and when I arrived I thought I would finish my degree and then leave and move back to a little village by the sea somewhere. The longer I stayed in Plymouth, the more I discovered its beautiful corners and the wonderful people that live here. I ended up finding an amazing community of outdoor enthusiasts and was surprised when I was sad to leave Plymouth after university.”
“I decided to come back because of the outdoor community, and I love being in Plymouth because I can do all of my hobbies here. I am so happy to now also work in Plymouth and be able to cycle to work and go on lunch break swims.”
A huge thank you to Amy for taking the time to speak to us today.
Above: Amy camping with her dog Nemo on the Outer Hebrides, Scotland.
Related informationOA Week 2023: A virtual multi-day forum to highlight ocean acidification research for sustainability initiatives around the world
Ocean Acidification Research for Sustainability (OARS) programme
PML funded to become Secretariat for the UN-endorsed 'OARS' programme
PML’s ocean acidification work shortlisted for the 2023 NERC Impact Awards