Hannah Fish Bio

Hannah headshot

Hannah Fish experienced the rewards of an environmental law career during her work with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) last summer. Working for the lobbying arm of the ASPCA, Hannah had the opportunity to be at the front end of the policymaking process rather than in litigation about prior policy. Now as a student in the Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic, she hopes to connect her passion for wildlife issues to coastal policy on wetlands. Wetland habitats have a wide variety of both animal and plant species and provide ecosystem services. However, Virginia stands to lose 50-80% of its tidal wetlands within the next century due to sea level rise, according to Wetlands Watch, a Norfolk-based non-profit environmental advocacy organization.

Taking a closer look, Hannah will be researching the connection between the expected sea level rise and the federal and state wetlands permitting processes under the Clean Water Act and Virginia’s Wetlands Protection Permit law. Her white paper will summarize the current state of wetlands law and determine if federal and state wetland permitting agencies have the authority to address sea level rise in this process.

The paper will be used by Wetlands Watch, Virginia’s only statewide grassroots organization dedicated to protecting wetlands. It has been advocating that federal and state agencies should incorporate sea level rise as a factor in wetlands permitting.

“I’m getting a lot of connections with Virginia environmental leaders,” says Hannah, “and developing research and writing skills is important for a law student.”

Hannah Fish is from Arlington, VA, and completed her undergraduate studies at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY. Hannah is now a second year law student at the William & Mary Law School and an active member of the Student Environmental and Animal Law Society.

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