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Daniel Zotos

This week’s campus celeb is Daniel Zotos, a UNH Senior who travelled across Spain, while working with the World Wildlife Fund, to study the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fishery.  He has presented his findings at the International Undergraduate Research Symposium, recently presented his findings to the UNH Foundation Board in Boston and has plans to present his findings at the upcoming Undergraduate Research Conference. Keep reading to find out more about exactly what he studied, what he found, and any and all details you’d want to know about his inspirational adventure!

Name: Daniel Zotos

School/Year: COLA/Senior

Major: International Affairs/Political Science Dual Major

Hometown: Marshfield, MA

Activities/Clubs: NetImpact UNH Chapter

During the summer of 2013, you held a job conducting field interviews for conservation efforts. Why did this job appeal to you and what were your responsibilities?

I grew up fishing with my brother and father everday on the North River in Marshfield MA.  In college, I needed a summer job and found this National Marine Fisheries Service one on Craigslist. The job required going to various harbors on the South Shore and Cape to interview Tuna fisherman. We ask questions about where they were fishing, what they caught, etc. And we even measure the fish and take a few biological samples to send to a lab which tracks the effects from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, among other things.

Not too long after, you headed over to the coast of Spain to study the policies and procedures linked to the Bluefin tuna fishery. What exactly did you do and what did you find?

It was a long endeavor. I travelled all across the country from Barcelona to Madrid to Sevilla, all along the coast of Southern Andalusia, and back up the eastern coast through Valencia. I worked with the World Wildlife Fund in Barcelona, whose conservation campaign has single-handedly had immensely positive effects on saving the overfished Bluefin Tuna. Japan drives the market because of their craving of sushi and sashimi, which is a power and status symbol.  Everyone in the Mediterranean wants a piece of the money the Japanese are willing to pay. Spain is important because many coastal communities have relied on this fishery for millennia and in recent years they are seeing the economically devastating effects of overfishing (some coastal villages I visited had unemployment rates as high as 50%). It’s a very complex issue. I met with the World Wildlife Fund in Barcelona for an NGOs perspective, I met with the Spanish Government in Madrid who have been scrutinized for their failure, and I met with the fishermen of an ancient practice called the “almadraba” which has been these peoples way of life for thousands of years and now due to advanced overfishing they’re screwed.  Environmental issues tend to transcend international borders, which makes them very pervasive in terms of how to handle them. What I found was that the NGO plays a huge role in fixing these environmental issues when gridlocked governments cannot.

What was the most rewarding part of this experience?

Most rewarding part was hanging out with the local fisherman after a long day’s work and several interviews. We drank, ate, laughed, and I really had to put my Spanish skills to the test. These men were such hard workers who live in such terrible conditions yet they were so appreciative of what they had and how a “white” “gringo” cared about their lives. They told me I was always welcome back.

What was the most challenging part of this experience?

Not having a place to stay for the first 2 weeks I was in Spain. I roamed from couch to hostel for a while until I managed to find an apartment for the next 3 months. The hardest part about travel like this is realizing you are completely alone. Going from Durham NH with 4 roommates and friends around you all day long to being in a foreign country with not one familiar face can be a daunting experience. It also is a very rewarding lifestyle to travel alone because you appreciate many things you normally wouldn’t, you talk to people you would normally be scared of, it’s quite humbling.

In order to have this wonderful opportunity, you had to write a grant proposal. Tell me about that.

It was brutal. Too many pages to remember. And everything had to be perfectly calculated. It is a good skill to put on the resume though.

You recently presented your findings to the UNH Foundation Board. What were the reactions of the individuals you presented to?

 I did present to the UNH Foundation Board in Boston which was incredible. It was just me and all of the people who are running this university behind the scenes; it was nerve racking but well worth it.

Is continuing the study of international fisheries included in your plans for after graduation?

Not necessarily right away. I want to get into politics, which will align me to achieve the more philanthropic goals I have in the future.

What other involvements do you have here at UNH?

I’m a member of Net Impact UNH, which is an awesome group. Net Impacts mission is to inspire individuals and communities to think beyond the financial bottom line and work towards achieving a triple bottom line (economic, social, and environmental) as they move forward with their careers and endeavors. The idea of more socially responsible businesses is a growing appeal in the 21st century. I’ve actually worked closely with the Carsey Institute in getting related legislation passed for the granite state. SO far it’s been a success!

Give us one interesting fact about you!

I was born in Los Angeles and was in one of the biggest earthquakes to hit the city ever! The Northridge Earthquake of 1994, I still have memories of it.

Lastly, if you could pick next week’s campus celebrity, who would it be and why?

My campus celebs would be Jae Boem Lim and Joonsub Lee. Two kickass South Koreans with awesome backstories. 


And, in case you're intrigued (which you should be), watch this video!


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