Charles Clover is Co-Founder and Senior Adviser at Blue Marine Foundation and states that his path into ocean conservation came via 30 years of journalism. He said “ocean issues, including overfishing, were consistently under-reported” so he ended up writing the ground-breaking book ‘Rewilding the Sea’.
In his book he talks about ocean biodiversity and why it is so important. He says “We depend on marine animals for food, for every other breath we take (animals such as whales and fish fertilise phytoplankton which emit oxygen) and for absorbing carbon – the world would be dozens of degrees hotter without the ocean as a carbon sink. ”
Blue Earth brings together businesses, experts, adventurers and environmentalists alongside community organisers and activists to explore how we can work and live better. Gina Lovett, Environmental Initiatives Manager at Patagonia is chairing a panel at the Summit and says that “When it comes to managing their own environment – fisheries, forests, farms, national parks — communities have local knowledge and skin in the game, and if supported properly, can go way beyond the usual zero-sum game to something truly regenerative. They need to be empowered and supported with the right policy.”
One great example of positive impact is Car y Mor, a community-owned business using regenerative ocean farming, food security and sustainable job creation to improve the coastal environment and the wellbeing of the local community. It is co-founded by Francois Beyers who will be speaking at Blue Earth Summit, who says “Supporting communities can enhance a business’ reputation, contribute to economic stability, and promote societal goals. Businesses can help by providing financial support, partnering with community organisations, encouraging volunteerism, and integrating community considerations into their decision-making processes.”
Ailsa McLellan, a marine biologist at Seawilding says that local knowledge and participation are key to the success or failure of ocean restoration projects. She has campaigned against kelp dredging in Scotland, and continues to campaign for urgent change in Scotland’s fisheries management, which benefits few at the expense of the environment and the people.
McLellan explains that “It is the local folk that are experts on natural history, past and present commercial activities in their area, and the intricacies of local politics. Local people tell us where oysters or seagrass are, or where they used to be, and whether they want them back. We are all part of the communities that we work within, we learn together as our projects progress, and many are empowered to become vocal advocates for marine protection.”.
“When it comes to managing their own environment, communities have local knowledge and skin in the game. They need to be empowered and supported with the right policy”.Gina Lovett, Environmental Initiatives Manager at Patagonia
Ben Hewitt, Co-founder of the North Devon World Surfing Reserve and speaker at Blue Earth agrees and says “it is the local people with the knowledge and first-hand experience who spot any challenges. For us it’s the surfers who work with experts, businesses and policy makers to make long term change and coastal protection possible”.
Nick Hounsfield, Founder of The Wave talks passionately about the power of blue health, saying that “If we feel the health and wellbeing benefit of being in water, and if it becomes our playground or ‘happy place’, then we will want to protect it. Human and ocean health are interdependent and I believe it’s key that people find a connection to a blue space, understand that all blue leads to the ocean and feel inspired to protect it for the benefit of everyone.”.
“We must begin by recognising that the ability to access and experience the sea is shaped and determined by our history, culture, class, race and gender. To restore the ocean as a health-enabling space we need to look beyond borders, to where the illusion of separation can crumble”.Easkey Britton, Surfer, Scientist, Author
To do this, “new and diverse collaborations are vital”, explains surfer, scientist and explorer, Easkey Britton. Her work explores the relationship between people and nature, with particular focus on water environments. Easkey loves to write books about our human connection with water and is the author of newly published book ‘Ebb and Flow’. Britton says “we need new collaborations that break out of existing silos and foster mutual cooperation in the face of global challenges. We need a deeper form of listening, and an awareness of whose stories we are listening to and whose we aren’t. We must begin by recognising that the ability to access and experience the sea is shaped and determined by our history, culture, class, race and gender. To restore the ocean as a health-enabling space we need to look beyond borders, to where the illusion of separation can crumble.”.