National Geographic partners with the Center for Strategic and International Studies to examine illegal fishing as a national security threat
Almost a decade ago, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala launched the Pristine Seas project to explore and help protect the last wild places in the ocean. Since its founding, the project has inspired the creation of 17 marine reserves around the world, resulting in more than 5.2 million square kilometers of the ocean protected. A few weeks ago, on Nov. 15, National Geographic Pristine Seas took another step in the journey to save our planet’s most pristine seascapes, and launched a report with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) that examines the national security implications of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The ocean covers 70 percent of the planet and shelters some of the most biodiverse ecosystems. Yet, only three percent of it is protected from threats of overfishing. This report endeavors to impact the prevention of IUU fishing, ensuring a healthier and more sustainable planet.
Gary E. Knell, president and CEO of the National Geographic Society, provided opening remarks at the launch during which he expressed the Society’s commitment to helping achieve a planet in balance. Following his remarks, Phil Stephenson, Chairman of the Freedom Group and board member of National Geographic Pristine Seas, introduced the event’s panel and stressed the importance of National Geographic and CSIS’s non-partisan, intellectually honest, forward looking and optimistic view of the world.
Panelist Dan Myers, International Policy Manager for National Geographic Pristine Seas, stated that illegal fishermen often operate through “low-risk, high-reward” scenarios.
The combination of a rising global population, increasingly exploited fish stocks, rising global temperatures and a complicated legal regime for ocean issues has created a strong black market opportunity.
Additionally, Myers commented that natural resource wars are one of the most common forms of conflict and illegal fishing could trigger national conflicts without immediate action to protect ocean resources. However, Pristine Seas remains hopeful that through innovative ideas, partnerships and coalitions with groups like CSIS, policies can be created to prevent impending threats to our oceans.
The report and video of the event are available here.
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