5 Steps for a Brighter Ocean Future

Over the last decade I have had the opportunity to see ocean conservation from many angles. I’ve worked at the Environmental Protection Agency, in academia, at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), for a foundation, and now I lead a non-profit. I’ve worked in policy in DC, on coral reef research in the Caribbean, with primary school students, fishing communities, artists and filmmakers, and with heads of state.

So here are the lessons learned from my first decade in ocean conservation. We at the Waitt Institute apply these lessons every day for the Blue Halo Initiative, our work partnering with governments and communities as they envision, create, and implement sustainable ocean management.

  1. Build partnerships. Collaborate and support each other – many of you already are doing that within the ocean community. But beyond that, if we are going to save the ocean we need to go beyond non-profits collaborating with academia and policymakers. We need to instigate cultural change through arts, media, fashion, finance, industry, and film.
  2. Think bigger. To get people engaged and excited (and attract funding), we need to be more audacious. What is the moon shot for ocean conservation? We need to think beyond protection of a single species or protected area, and toward comprehensive ocean zoning.
  3. Ditch the ego. I will admit, it took me little while to learn that. In academia it’s important to your career to make sure you get public credit for the work you do. With Blue Halo Barbuda, providing support behind the scenes is what made the project successful – drafting documents, arranging catering, buying scotch tape and putting up signs for community meetings, and whatever else needs to be done. It’s not glamorous, but it works.
  4. Apply triage. We can’t save everything – there’s not enough money, or —> Read More