Michael Aw, ocean activist, over fishing, shark finning, sustainable choices, ocean issues, sustainable seafood, ocean change-maker“A lot of time and money is wasted educating the converted,” says AW. “We should reach the general public to convert them. This is the challenge. This summit is a wonderful idea.” ~  Michael Aw

Michael AW recently returned from South Africa documenting over fishing of the sardine run, the largest marine migration in the world. He came across ten boats taking 100-150 tonnes of sardines per boat, per day. The sardines are harvested for Norwegian salmon farming. It takes eight or ten pounds of sardines to feed one pound of salmon. Without sardines, the dolphins and apex predicators, sea birds and rock hopper penguins go hungry, in addition to the local human population that depends on this food supply. Estimates are that the sardine population on the East Coast of South Africa will be fished out within the next two to three years.


Four key concepts for impacting serious ocean issues


Michael offers four key concepts to help us better understand and have impact on these serious ocean issues. First, we must understand our sustainable choices eat less fish and eat sustainable seafood. Farmed salmon and shrimp are not sustainable and are destroying the oceans. Second, children are our only hope to shift this world. We must engage the kids in the environmental message so that adults will wake up and help save the ocean. Third, by protecting iconic animals like sharks and polar bears, we are protecting ourselves. Fourth, in order to protect our livelihoods and our lives, we must become ocean change-makers.


Because of Michael’s efforts 27 countries and the EU have passed bans on shark finning.


AW has had a huge impact through his personal network on shark finning in Asia. In 2002, he launched the first Celebrate the Sea Festival. In 2013 at the festival it was announced that because of the festival and AW’s lobbying efforts Brunei would be the first country to declare a ban on the catching of all shark species in the waters of Brunei and the importation and trade of shark fins and all shark products. Since then 27 countries and the EU have implemented full or partial bans on shark finning, however international waters remain unregulated.

Michael AW is an ocean author, explorer, underwater photographer and marine conservationist. His accolades include wining more than 63 international awards and being named as one of the world’s most influential nature photographers by Outdoor Photography. In 2013 he was awarded the NOGI for Arts by the American Academy of Underwater Arts and Science. His essays and pictures have been featured in BBC Wildlife, National Geographic, the Smithsonian, Nature, Ocean Geographic, Times, Nature Focus to name just a few.


Michael was awarded the Peter Benchley Shark Conservation Award in recognition of his highly-effective campaign against shark fin soup consumption in the Asia


In 2008 Stan Waterman conferred Michael with the Peter Benchley Shark Conservation Award by Sharks Research Institute in recognition of his highly-effective and unrelenting campaign against shark fin soup consumption in the Asia Pacific region. Michael is also a recipient of the prestigious WYLAND ICON award for Conservation in 2011 and in 2012; he was presented the Diver of the Year Award at the Beneath the Sea Festival in New Jersey.

Michael has authored 31 books; the latest is the “Elysium Shackleton Antarctic Visual Epic”, now a movie and an exhibition touring Australia, UK and the USA. Michael is a Senior Fellow of International League of Conservation Photographers and Fellow International of the Explorer Club whose members include Sir Edmund Hilary, Roald Amundsen, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Sylvia Earle.

To hear Michael’s complete interview and learn more about his conservation efforts around the world visit us at Blue Ocean Summit 2014: Michael Aw, see Michael Aw Photography and read reviews of his books at the Store, By ordering Michael’s Aw’s books via the store you support the Blue Ocean Community and can see reviews on all of our underwater and marine books and films.

Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock are award-winning photojournalists who specialize in documenting tropical marine life and pioneering remote dive destinations. They are veteran dive group leaders who’ve led highly successful trips to remote and sensitive areas such as Sipadan, Komodo Island, the Solomon Islands and Raja Ampat.

In 2002 they began working with the Indonesian branches of several NGOs, including Conservation International, to educate the world about Indonesia’s reefs and the urgent need to conserve them. To find out more about Burt and Maurine’s very adventuresome lives read “Guiding Sustainable Group Tours – Pros, Cons and Caveats” at Ocean Profiles: Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock