The coming few days I will be reporting on a site visit by US Department of Fisheries officers to the US to learn all about Turtle Excluder Devices.
So here goes!
The other side of the world is a long, long way away. Or so they say… But we found out yesterday and the day before (yes, it takes nearly two days…) as we travelled from Malaysia to Panama City Florida, to work with the US National Marine Fisheries Service as part of a learning exchange between Malaysia and the US. With me are four officers from the Malaysian Fisheries Department: Rosidi Ali and Sharum Yusof from the Fisheries Research Institute, in Kampong Aceh (Perak); Syed Abdullal Abdul Kader from the Terengganu Fisheries Department and in charge of turtle conservation in Malaysia, and Godfery Kissey from Sabah Fisheries Department. And no trip is without it’s little hiccups: I had to fly on a different aircraft from Kuala Lumpur to Seoul and arrived a few minutes earlier than the Malaysian team. Then in Seoul we had all kinds of fun making sure we all had boarding passes to Atlanta, and hoping we could also pick up our boarding passes down to Panama City – no go except for Sharum! Why him?… Then in Atlanta we had nail-biting moments making sure everyone made it through immigration, particularly Rosidi, as his visa was in an older passport. But all went smoothly, and we got our boarding passes, introduced the Malaysian team to the TSA’s upgraded security measures – kind of funny watching them holding up their trousers after taking off their belts to go through the scanner! – and eventually made it on to our short 1 hour hop down to Florida. The four absolutely zonked guys passed out before we even got to take off Then in Panama City my luggage didn’t arrive…. What a surprise…. But we made it, and John Mitchell from the NMFS Pascagoula lab was there to meet us, and right behind us on our same flight was Marlene Menard, from the US Department of State, also to be part of the week’s expedition. We checked into our condo, and what a palace! Complete with all the comforts of home. But travel takes it’s toll, so we settled for an early evening meal and then we were all off to bed, ready for a full day of meetings the following day.