Meet Mario Gutierrez, a Harvard Junior on His Way to Saving the World!

This weekend I had the pleasure of talking with an incredible student at Harvard. We spoke about his innovative work in sustainability and passions. Here is a little more about his work:

What are you working on this summer, and why is it important?

I will be working on closed-cycle hatchery production of Bluefin tuna. Most tuna farming relies on juveniles that are caught in the wild, and this has been depleting their populations. Closed-cycle cultivation will allow us to ease the pressure off wild stocks of tuna. This means hatching the eggs and raising them rather than taking them from the wild, which is important because not only are we helping to conserve their numbers in the wild, but the tuna can be raised using vegetable feeds. This is a more sustainable alternative and far better for the environment than feeding them fish.

What are the big picture implications of this type of fish farming?

As the world population continues to grow, there will be more mouths to feed, and we will need a more sustainable source of protein that does not require extensive land use. The mass production of beef results in the emission of a lot of methane, exacerbating the effects of climate change, and wild fisheries are a limited resource. Oceans cover most of the Earth, and that’s why I think aquaculture will be a big part of feeding the future.

When did you decide sustainability was your passion?

I grew up in rural Texas, and I know that I have always enjoyed spending time outdoors. There aren’t enough people thinking about the consequences of their consumption habits, and I wanted to make sure that I was doing something positive for the environment. Harvard has given me a platform and many resources to help conservation efforts, and I want to make the most of it.

In the spirit of the holiday, what would your ideal Valentine’s date be?

Ideally, I would have a picnic on a beach somewhere nice and warm. I wouldn’t make anyone help me pick up trash from the beach, but that is certainly the criteria that differentiates a date from a keeper.