Updated on March 8, 2019
By Ian Urbina, Safina Center Fellow
The video included here is from a recent climate change event hosted by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Vanity Fair. I was asked to moderate a panel conversation with the director of Global Fishing Watch, Tony Long, and the chairman and president of the Tiffany & Co. Foundation, Anisa Kamadoli Costa.
The thing that struck me most about the event was that it showed a growing awareness of the importance of the oceans in the overall climate change discussion. Surely, the most urgent issue of our time is global warming, but thus far, the illegalities and lack of governance at sea has not been a major focal point of the conversation.
On the one hand, the event was smartly handled because it took ocean concerns and organically cross pollinated them with larger climate change concerns, which, in my view, is not done enough. On the other hand, the event organizers chose to tackle the subject in a refreshing way by not just talking about sea level rise or acidification or melting glaciers, but instead by inviting two speakers that could discuss the health of the oceans from two diametrically opposed perspectives.
In the work of the Tiffany & Co. Foundation and specifically, their research, restoration, and conservation efforts surrounding coral reefs around the world, there was a bottom-up explanation of how these habitats sitting on the seafloor serve as the canary in the coal mine when it comes to the health of the planet. In the work of Tony Long and Global Fishing Watch, there was a top-down approach toward ocean conservation through innovative use of big data and satellite technology far above the surface of the seas. More to the point, Global Fishing Watch also highlights the relationship between illegal fishing and over-fishing and concerns about ocean depletion with the vital role that the oceans play as the temperature stabilizer of the planet and the respiratory system that produces every other breath we take.