When a Chinese fin shark soup is eaten, somewhere on the bottom of the ocean a real shark is dying slowly… This is the reality for about 100 million sharks per year. The polemic over the preparation of this traditional Chinese dish, a symbol of great honour to whom it is served, is controversial. The tones of killed sharks due to increased fins consumption, is shocking.
“Our Oceans in Collapse” – was the title of the presentation given by Jim Simon, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Oceana - the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans.
The organization deals with governments and companies giving publicity in protecting the submarine life.
This incredible conference was about how Oceana is building bridges withtheir opponents and enemies and how it is affecting and winning policy changes.
Facts were presented showing the gravity of the problems in the ocean ecosystem. Some of them are:
- Since 1950, 90% of the big fish in the oceans is gone.
- There is a biomass composition shift in proportion between fishing predators/low-level carnivores/herbivores of 0/49/48 percent at present, which fifty years ago was 54/18/27. This is a critical distortion of the natural life balance in the oceans. The power in kW/day consumed by the fishing boats increased from 2.8 to 4.2. As a consequence, from 1974 to 2008, the overfished worldwide territory increased from 10 to 32%.
- It is a responsibility of each country to take care of its waters up to 2 miles off shore but in Europe, only 10% of the European Exclusive Zone is protected.
We heard the expressions “Hunting for rats with bulldozers”. This is happening when huge driftnets are used in fishing, called as well “ walls of death”, trapping thousands of whales, dolphins, sharks, turtlesand many others, plus devastating the corals reefs.
Oceana is earning credibility showing real facts, giving publicity on the fatal ecosystem consequences, trying to make the human practices a national concern and provoke a policy change.
A lobbying, publicity and advocacy are the main instruments in achievingpolitical awareness. Despite of an individual concern, it is the political outcome, which is triggering the most changes in the legacy system. This is due to the power of voice of the political supporters.
Publicity and negotiation were used in pushing the management of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, sending enormous ships to the most beautiful places in the oceans, to start controlling the discharge of gallons of sewage and the contamination of the waters. It was the opinion of the proper employees who influenced the company because it was considered that the excellence of the service is very much depending on the satisfaction of the staff.
If the oceans are saved, many people will eat and have jobs, because more we preserve the submarine life, more fish and more healthy the waters will be, more compromised we will be to the sustainable development and the future of our planet.
Oceana is using five approaches to achieve its goals: law, science, press, people organization and lobbying.
To be successful and efficient requires settling short-term goals, making them measurable, delegating who and what, and be clear. Use imagination, give opportunity to different talents, and innovate trying to create awareness.
Since 2001 Oceana has protected 1,2 million square miles of oceans and innumerable sea creatures. More than 500,000 members and e-activists support Oceana. In some environmental projects Oceana is collaborating with other organizations like WWF and National Geographic.
More information about Oceana
by Nasya Dimitrova