Cal Poly Humboldt professor receives $1.1 million grant to improve fish population with local Tribes

Jose Marin Jarrin, a fisheries professor at Cal Poly Humboldt, was awarded a $1.1 million grant from the University of California Climate Action Fund to improve fish population resilience. Marin Jarrin is originally from coastal Ecuador and was able to spend a lot of time outdoors and by the water with his family growing up. Through these experiences, Marin Jarrin discovered that Biology is his calling.

“We spent a lot of time at the beach, my parents loved to travel and so I was always interested in doing something that was outdoors, and biology always called,” Marin Jarrin said.

Marin Jarrin did their undergraduate in general biology at the University of Guayaquil in Ecuador. Later he earned a Masters at University of Oregon and a Ph.D. at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center.

“To graduate back then you had three choices, and I chose the internship option, and so I ended up interning in a project looking at the animals that live on sandy beaches,” Marin Jarrin said.

The UC system opened four projects that could tackle climate change and increase the resilience to climate change. In particular they were looking for projects that would work with or support communities that were vulnerable to climate change.

Marin Jarrin on a boat in Humboldt Bay, Samoa, CA, while teaching a group of students. | Photo by Ruby Cayenne

“I think we are great examples of how diversity can help tackle extremely complex questions or problems like climate change,” Marin Jarrin said. “What I mean by diversity I don’t just mean cultural diversity, we have different gender, sexual orientation, ages, so many different people. Yet those differences give us strength,
because everyone has a different background and experiences and they might find a different solution to the problem. Hopefully we are an example of how diversity strengthens our communities.”

Gabriel Irribarren, a former Cal Poly Humboldt undergraduate in zoology, explained how Marin Jarrin helped build relationships and gain new experiences
through working with him. Irribarren is still working with Marin Jarrin to try and publish a paper with California Fish and Wildlife.

“He has given me the courage to be a great scientist,” Irribarren said. “He nudged me into public speaking and has given me a lot of research opportunities. Jose has a great mind for research. And he is very respectful of the culture and working with tribes in the area.”

Marin Jarrin is the Principal Investigator of improving climate change resilience by increasing capacity for Northern California Tribal fisheries, followed by team members Michelle Schuiteman, Andrew Kinziger, Darren Ward, Paul Bourdeau, Laurie Richmond and Eric Bjorkstedt. Marin Jarrin and his team will hire five graduate students to work closely with collaborators in the five tribal nations. Marisa McGrew and Adam Canter from the Wiyot Tribe, William Matsubu and Jacob Pounds from Blue Lake Rancheria, Amy Atkins and Sara Shen from the Trinidad Rancheria, Hans Voight and Megan Rocha from the Resighini Rancheria and Rosa Laucci from the Tolowa dee-ni’ Nation.

“As a way to help develop their capacity, each Tribal partner is going to focus on five species that they value for cultural reasons or for economic reasons. There are going to be several sub-projects that come out of each collaboration. This includes five graduate projects,” Marin Jarrin said.

Marin Jarrin on a barge in Humboldt Bay. | Photo by Ruby Cayenne

By working closely with these Tribes, it is Marin Jarrin’s hope that they could be a small piece in restoring the environment in the rural area that is Humboldt county. His plan is to keep this project going for future generations who can learn from the work that will be done through this grant. He hopes that this project can be recreated across the country for others to mitigate climate change.

“This project is just getting started, so my personal work with Jose has been limited. Resighini Rancheria worked with Jose and another masters student on a research project focused on night smelt, which led to this wider collaboration. Jose has approached this multitribe and agency project with a collaborative and inclusive spirit. Resighini Rancheria is a strong proponent of tribally driven scientific efforts, and Jose has been attentive to that goal,” said Marine Natural Resources Manager for the Resighini Rancheria Michelle Pualani Kunst.

This project is Tribal-led which means the tribal partners will get to decide how much that money will be spent and where it is spent.

“The cool thing about our project is that it is led by the Tribes. We coordinated, but they are the ones that lead. They selected the species that they wanted to study, they select the locations of where they want to study, and they get to decide how we spend a lot of the money. Many of them have selected to hire more personnel, they’re buying more gear, they’re participating in the selection of grad students,” Marin Jarrin said.

Marin Jarrin explained that climate change isn’t something that can just be brushed off, it will take years and generations to help the planet get to where it should be. Marin Jarrin hopes for younger generations to learn that diversity brings collective and creative data to the problem.

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