jose_truda_palazzo_and_jean_michel, saving sharks, ocean conservationist, marine conservation, ocean activist, protected marine area, sanctuaryWhen you read a bio like José Truda Palazzo Jr.’s, the head swims. Based in “the backwaters of Brazil,” José Palazzo has shown that, with determination and direction, anyone in any country can reach out to the rest of the world and be heard. At the Blue Ocean Business Summit, which runs June 8 – 21, Palazzo discussed his incredible trajectory that has taken the dive industry into international waters.

Of his many accomplishments, Jose and his friend, Brazilian dive industry legend “Pinguim” (a.k.a. Paulo Guilherme A. Cavalcanti) created “Divers for Sharks.” With 80,000 followers, this non-profit organization promotes the unification and collaboration of the diving community in shark conservation efforts.

When the non-profit was established in 2010, D4S discovered that the decline of tunas is an issue very much connected to shark populations, and thus began Jose’s journey taking the dive industry into international treaty waters. The presence of José and his team now extends from Brazil to Palau, to French Polynesia, to any place where the conversation of shark conservation is happening, especially where the diving industry is involved.

Realizing that attention of international bodies was being pulled towards the loud, large extractive fisheries lobby, José and Pinguim made their presence known at the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) in 2010. Three years later (and much behind-the-scenes efforts), the team got representation at the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species, (CITES) held in Bangkok in 2013, and successfully lobbied on behalf of protection for sharks and manta rays.

Following their first few international forays, the team spearheaded the creation and delivery of the “Declaration of Non-Extractive Businesses” at the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Korea in 2014. Later that same year, at the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Parks Congress in Sydney, José’s team caught the attention of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) liaison who helped them to circulate their Declaration of Non-Extractive Businesses to the UN delegation.

Even though the team has a non-profit, according to José Truda Palazzo, “A major lesson learned during our interactions with government delegations at international treaties and government meetings is that when you say you represent a ‘commercial interest’ – eg dive operators, hotels, trade groups and the like – you TRULY get the attention from official delegates.”

With the guidance of UNEP, the team launched an unprecedented international dive initiative in a new document called the “Dive Industry Declaration on Marine Conservation.”  The Dive Industry Declaration on Marine Conservation has been gratefully received this year in ecotourism-centric Palau, where President Tommy Remengsau Jr. is battling illegal and industrial fishing from across Asia that is causing the dwindling of Palau’s fish stocks. The Declaration has helped President Remengsau’s strategy to establish a national marine sanctuary covering 80% of Palau’s territorial. The national marine sanctuary has been embraced by 15 of 16 of Palau’s Governor’s, Palau’s tourism sectors (diving, boating and fishing) business community and state legislatures.

Next stop for the “Dive Industry Declaration on Marine Conservation”? The Declaration is to be presented to world leaders at COP 21 – the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Paris this December where an international treaty is to be finalized.  In 2017, the  same Declaration will then go to the Convention on the High Seas where international delegates have agreed to develop a legally binding treaty to protect marine life beyond national territorial waters.  The Declaration will also be sent to all relevant international agencies dealing with biodiversity, fisheries and tourism.

José and his team have seen the difference the dive industry can make on the international stage by unifying as a powerful economic voice for protection of the marine environment; as organizers of the Dive Industry Declaration on Marine Conservation they believe now is a critical time for as many industry members as possible to unite under one umbrella to send a powerful message to world governments and international agencies to do more, faster, to protect our shared ocean heritage.

An invitation: Business representatives from all industry stakeholder groups, including dive operators, dive shops, dive resorts, live aboards and trade associations, are invited to add their names to the Dive Industry Declaration on Marine Conservation by sending an email to josepalazzo@gmail.com.

The interconnectivity of the problems our planet faces has got José juggling various events, conventions, and locations around the globe. He is now trying to find a way to get to Paris for the UN Convention on Climate Change. Those who have seen José Truda Palazzo Jr. in action or at the Blue Ocean Business Summit are doing their best to aid him in his journey to Paris, as time and again he has successfully represented the dive industry to affect change in international ocean policy.

The decisions to be made at COP 21 will determine whether we will have coral reefs or a dive business in 15 years. Dive industry businesses are invited to collaborate on this important endeavor to get seasoned professionals to this world  conference that will determine our future. Go here to donate a small amount.

The Blue Ocean Business Summit is designed specifically for all dive industry stakeholders including: manufacturers, certification agencies, dive stores, media and consulting, trade and consumer shows, resorts, live-aboards, dive operators, marine parks managers, scientists, divers, instructors, group leaders, travel wholesalers, photographers, marine nonprofits, water sports and hotel associations, and travel and tourism professionals.

The free online industry event, which runs June 8 – 19, features an inspiring group of 36 action-oriented thought leaders and trailblazers who share insights, lessons learned and action steps that have helped them to successfully ride the waves of change already happening in the marine tourism and dive recreation industries. Each day, Summit participants have access to four interviews with world-changing Ocean People.

In addition to José Truda Palazzo Jr., Summit participants will watch featured speakers such as Dr. Sylvia Earle (National Geographic Explorer in Residence), Jean-Michel Cousteau (Ocean Futures Society), Sharon Kwok (WildAid Hong Kong), Stan Waterman (The Man Who Loved Sharks), Jill Heinerth (We Are Water), Ken Nedimyer (Coral Restoration Foundation), Wendy Benchley (Peter Benchley Ocean Awards), Rob Stewart (Sharkwater) and 27 additional speakers from 13 countries.

To attend the Blue Ocean Business Summit 2015, sign up for free at BOBSummit.com. Interview recordings of each day’s speakers are available online to participants for the remaining duration of the Summit.
Twitter: @BlueOceanSummit
FaceBook: BlueOceanBusinessSummit
Email: BlueOceanBusinessSummit@gmail.com

(Photo: “Pinguim” (far left) and José Truda Palazzo (far right) with Jean-Michel Cousteau and Divers for Sharks volunteer in Brazil)