Our Blue Ocean Summit 2015 brought four speakers together that are actively involved in some of the Ocean’s most serious issues. Consumption, is about over-fishing to the brink of extinction and butchering sharks and mantas for misguided traditional cuisine. Sea Level Rise threatens coastal communities and marine eco-systems. The irresponsible use of plastics threatens our bodies and the ocean environment. Climate Change raises ocean temperature and ocean acidification causing the destruction of coral reefs that we are witnessing around the globe.
Our four speakers offer an activist’s perspective on what these ocean issues are and what we can all do about them. Here is a sampling of what they have to say.
How Do We Revolutionize our World – Rob Stewart
Rob Stewart is a biologist, photographer, marine conservationist and award winning underwater filmmaker. While Rob was on an assignment in the Galapagos Islands, to film sharks, Stewart discovered that there was indiscriminate killing of sharks within the supposedly protected, Galapagos Marine Reserve. At first Rob tried spreading an awareness of these issues through the print media, but when he saw no results, he turned to film to bring the public closer to sharks. Rob, at the age of 22, started a new career and embarked on a journey visiting 12 countries over 4 years that resulted in the epic, documentary film Sharkwater. A hugely successful film, Sharkwater premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011 and won a “Canada’s Top Ten” award.
Since then Rob has come to the realization that it’s not just sharks that are in serious jeopardy – its us – and Rob has now focused his camera on the broader issue of the state of the World’s environment. His latest film looks to the evolution of life and lessons learned from past revolutions to determine what is necessary to save our world. Joining with activists and our youth fighting to save their future, Rob’s message is both, beautiful and provocative and revealing that this crisis is an opportunity for everyone to step forward and speak up and become there own activist.
Rob beautifully states “we have the greatest opportunity in history to do something right, to right the wrongs, to be a hero, to save ecosystems, to create a world that’s beautiful.”
To delve deeper into Rob Stewart’s experiences making Sharkwater and Revolution see Rob’s article “How Do We Revolutionize our World” at: Ocean Profiles: Rob Stewart
Dive Destinations Under Water – John Englander
Rising sea levels and the impact on our Oceans caused by Climate Change are probably the greatest social and environmental issues of our time and future generations. As John Englander explains, the Earth has seen cycles of warming and cooling before, however today, humanity has gone beyond these normal cycles to create periods that are hotter and longer. Already just an increase of several degrees in the atmosphere and ocean temperatures have had dramatic effects, including coastal destruction, more severe weather patterns, the melting of the polar ice caps and ocean acidification.
John Englander is an oceanographer and sea level rise expert. His background in marine science coupled with degrees in economics and geology allows John to see the broad sweep of climate change and to anticipate the large-scale financial and societal impact that they will have on us, particularly sea level rise.
“We need to be good stewards of the earth…and look at the world in majesty and miracle”. John Englander says “We need to recognize we’re part of this ecosystem…we’re not in control of it.”
To dig deeper into these extremely important ocean issues read John Englander’s article “Dive Destinations Under Water” at: Ocean Profiles: John Englander
Our Plastic Seas: there is No Away – Dianna Cohen
“Plastic is this incredibly useful material, and I feel that when we design things with intended obsolescence in mind—single use, disposable ideas in mind” says Dianna Cohen then “we are treating a valuable material in an irresponsible way”
Dianna was first attracted to plastic as an artist, working with its bright colors and capacity for creative designs. However, she eventually started using her art to both educate and protest. In our Blue Ocean interview, Dianna describes the chemicals that are used in the making of plastics and how they can harm our bodies. Not only can plastics harm our bodies but they can be an enemy of wildlife and the environment.
“I originally thought that plastic was ephemeral and biodegradable” Dianna says “but it turns out it’s not. It just breaks into smaller bits, and then you see it…washed up on beaches or … when you’re in the ocean or you’re snorkeling or swimming” Dianna continues “You’ll see bits of chewed plastic bags and things that animals have already mistaken for food…turtles are mistaking plastic for algae and seaweed and jellyfish, their normal food sources” The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is just one of the today’s most obvious conditions created by the plastic pollution that is endemic around the Earth.
Read more on Dianna’s personal awakening to the ongoing disaster created by the indiscriminate use of plastics and her transformation into an ocean activist in her article “Our Plastic Seas: there is No Away” at: Ocean Profiles: Dianna Cohen
Dive Tourism and Our Carbon Fin Print – Stefan Gossling
Stefan Gossling is best known for his abundant academic work and publications. With a background in economics, ecology and tourism, Stefan has taken a love of diving onto the international stage, becoming a consultant to high-level policy-makers at the EU and United Nations. In our interview Stefan demonstrates how important it is for sustainable diving to be embraced by the dive industry. And to understand and be able to anticipate the regulatory constraints that marine tourism will soon have to work within.
Stefan says that “I think diving has always been about education, it’s about deep experiences. It’s about understanding a different environment.” Stefan continues by saying that “The dive industry is really one area where a lot more communication about these issues could take place, because people are open for it.”
“Tourists…want business to act responsibly, sustainably. There’s an expectation and it is not going to vanish, it’s going to be stronger and stronger.” Stefan gives us an international perspective on the benefits of embracing a sustainable business and travel concept for the dive industry. To share more of Stefan’s insights join us for “Dive tourism and Our Carbon Fin Print” at Ocean Profiles: Stefan Gossling