Optimism for our Ocean

A fisherman in Bangladesh

Consider this simple fact:

The Ocean is the world’s largest food source.

A simple but an immense one. The Ocean provides over 3.1 billion people with almost 20% of their intake of animal protein. Many of these people live in developing nations where other options for food are not easily accessible. As our global population has continued to grow, consumption of fish has been the highest in history. In fact, in 2016, the global consumption per capita rose to just above 20 kilograms a year.

The demand for fish has created a multi-billion dollar industry, which consequently has led to the creation of a multi-billion dollar black market. We are now pushing the limits of what humans once thought was a limitless resource. 87% of fish stocks are fully exploited or over-exploited. This type of over-fishing is causing a worldwide affect. Globally, fishermen are reporting smaller catch, despite increased efforts. When other environmental issues are taken into account, such as climate change and pollution, the outcome for our Ocean and our fisheries are not optimistic.

With such a daunting problem, it’s easy to think there is no hope. But that’s not true. The majority of our Ocean’s problems are human caused. Thus, I see no reason why they can’t be human fixed. It is with this hopeful attitude that I’m looking forward to traveling to the first ever UNLEASH Innovation Lab to collaborate with an international group of people in order to create these human fixes.

Specifically, I hope to focus on finding ways that will secure developing nations’ fishing industries, therefore assure their economic and food security, while protecting our Ocean. While at UNLEASH, I look forward to collaborating with others and investigating topics such as marine management strategies, fishing technology, green aquaculture methods, marine protected areas, and illegal fishing surveillance. I believe this team mentality that UNLEASH fosters is key to creating change and ultimately success. Thus, I am confident that I will leave this event with new friendships, ideas, and hope for our future and our Ocean.