Victor Blanco, a former Latin American senior adviser for Hinicio, a European strategic consulting firm focused on sustainable energy and transport, has been named the Florida Sea Grant agent with UF/IFAS Extension for Taylor County.
In his new position, Blanco will develop educational programs that inform residents and visitors about the sustainable use of natural resources in his county. Some of his programs will focus on artificial reefs, recreational fishing, aquaculture and water quality. He says his first task is to begin engaging with the community’s residents and businesses about what concerns they have regarding their marine resources.
“My main goal is to help inform county residents about how their marine and coastal natural resources affect the county’s economy and development,” Blanco said. “I plan to use different communication strategies to reach a variety of audiences.”
As a consultant in Venezuela, Blanco said he often referred to Sea Grant publications for his job as a technical adviser in the nation’s environment ministry.
“To be part of the Sea Grant family and support extension activities in one of the least-developed and most pristine coastal areas along the Florida coast is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Blanco said.
Blanco received his bachelor’s degree in marine biology from Universidad de Oriente in Venezuela. His master’s research focused on the territorial impacts of globalization and was completed at Spain’s Universidad Internacional de Andalucía. He has 17 years of experience in environmental consulting for projects related to resource management, climate change, sustainable development and biodiversity conservation.
Blanco said he decided he wanted to pursue a career in marine science after watching documentaries about Jacques Cousteau, a French author and researcher who studied the sea and all forms of life in water.
“I grew up close to a really beautiful coastal zone in the Venezuelan Caribbean waters,” Blanco said. “I realized how human activities impacted the line between land and sea. I was so excited to try to understand this more. Since ancient times, the coast has played a key role in human development and I definitely want to be part of that interaction.”
Blanco has also served as the chief of the state of Aragua’s fisheries division in Venezuela. In 2014, Blanco won the Judges Choice Award for MIT’s Climate CoLab Waste Management contest.
“Victor brings a unique perspective that will allow Florida Sea Grant and IFAS Extension to not only expand existing programs, but create new ones that will make lasting contributions to residents in Taylor County,” said Martin Main, associate director of education and extension for Florida Sea Grant.