With holiday season upon us, it’s all we can do to tear our eyes away from dreamy photos of coral-fringed atolls, powder-white sand, stupendous dive sites and clear waters in 50 shades of blue. But with the world’s oceans in peril, it behoves us to spare a moment’s thought for what’s really going on in there.
We caught up with Chris Gorell Barnes, co-founder of Blue Marine Foundation, to find out about their essential work and discover how we can also help preserve the big blue for generations to come…
So what is the Blue Marine Foundation, and what are its tasks?
We aim to fight the far-reaching crisis in the oceans. Blue finds solutions by working with our partners who feel committed to the sea environment. Blue’s objective is to increase the area of ocean protected by marine reserves.
Give us a potted history…
Blue is the legacy of The End of the Line – our film on overfishing. It won the 2011 Puma Creative Impact Award for the documentary film with the greatest positive impact on society. We’re young but determined – in our first year we enabled the creation of the largest marine reserve in the world in the breathtaking Chagos Archipelago. It was the proudest moment of my life.
What do you think is the biggest threat to the world’s oceans?
Overfishing. Its effects are global and terrifying. Life as we know it depends on the protection of the oceans’ intricate and vulnerable ecosystems, and yet we are decimating them. As Dr Daniel Pauly says in The End of the Line film: ‘We (humans) are fighting a war against fish and we are winning’. If we continue to plunder the oceans at current rates, we will drive all the world’s major stocks of commercial fish to the point of collapse by the middle of this century.
So how does Blue try to stem these kinds of problems?
We work with all levels of society – from governments to fishermen, from business to other charities. We raise awareness using social media and film, and essential funding through philanthropic and corporate sources to kick-start projects. The relationship with Orlebar Brown is a great example of a like-minded young and dynamic organisation joining us in our mission to raise funds, awareness and engage everyone in solving this issue.
What are Blue’s aims, and what does the future hold for the foundation?
In our view, Blue is the new green! With the help of our amazing global ambassadors such as Sienna Miller and Stephen Fry, Blue aims to inspire the public to believe that environmental problems can be solved. At the moment, our projects under development span the globe – from Antarctica, to the Maldives, to Southern England and the Caribbean.
So what can the average Smith do to help preserve the oceans?
You can donate to Blue and encourage others to do the same. You can follow Blue on Facebook or Twitter @Bluemarinef to find out what we’re up to. Also, ask before you eat; make sure your seafood comes from sustainable sources. Fish2Fork, Blue’s partner organisation, is the first online restaurant guide to review restaurants based on sustainability, as well as how it tastes.
As part of its fifth anniversary celebrations, Smith swimwear favourite Orlebar Brown is donating 10% of proceeds from the sales of its limited-edition trunks, featuring images from the Getty archive. Check out our OB photo competition post for more details…
Photographs by George Duffield. Assistant copy-editing by Jamie Baxter