Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is the Director of Science and Solutions at the Waitt Foundation. Her goal is to restore the ocean to cornucopic abundance, with a focus on supporting sustainable fishing for the approximately 1 billion people who depend on the ocean for their nutrition and livelihoods. She travels the world to collect, create, curate, actualize, and amplify the best ideas in ocean conservation and blogs about it at ayanablog.com. In 2011, Johnson completed a marine biology PhD at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, advised by Dr. Jeremy Jackson. Her research, conducted on the Caribbean islands of Curaçao and Bonaire, took a holistic approach to understanding how to sustainably manage coral reefs by incorporating ecology, economics, and sociology. This included research proving escape gaps can reduce fish trap bycatch by 80% without reducing catch value (that research won Rare/National Geographic’s Solution Search competition), and socioeconomic interviews with 400 of Curaçao and Bonaire’s fishermen and SCUBA diving instructors to understand their use of ocean resources, views on coral reef health, and support for various management approaches. Johnson was a 2011 Knauss Sea Grant Fellow at NOAA focused on projects related to implementation of the National Ocean Policy. She is from Brooklyn, NY, and is a jazz singer.
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