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Greenpeace photo of Bluefin

Carl Safina included the above quote from poet Gary Snyder in his talk on fisheries and ocean conservation at Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey yesterday.

Safina is an author, professor and ocean activist–not necessarily in that order. As the co-founder and president of Blue Ocean Institute, Safina has long been a voice in ocean and fishery conservation.

Hopkins professor Barbara Block introduced Safina and presented him with a coin dating back to 150 BC featuring the image of a Bluefin Tuna. This was particularly appropriate as Block and Safina had worked on getting an international trade ban on Bluefin Tuna at the CITES Meeting in Qatar last month.

“The main Atlantic bluefin tuna fishing nations—the U.S., the entire European Union—plus Norway and Kenya, supported Monaco’s proposal to ban international trade in bluefin tuna.  Forty years of mismanagement and continual decline, the destruction of the West Atlantic breeding population, and the uncontrolled tailspin of the Mediterranean’s bluefins due to rampant overfishing, convinced them that a ban was needed. The U.N. agreed, as did the World Conservation Union.

But bullied by Japan, with complicity from Canada (two countries which have famously demolished their fish populations), many poor countries with no stake in North Atlantic bluefin tuna—but with a lot to lose by Japan’s threats to withhold economic aid—voted with Japan to sink Monaco’s proposal.

With that, they sank the bluefin’s chance at a life-raft.  For now, hopes for arresting the decline, and for seeing a recovery, are belly-up.”—Carl Safina, from carlsafina.org

Block and colleagues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium  established the Tuna Research and Conservation Center, a unique facility that permits physiological research on tunas.

Turns out, I had seen Safina some years ago on Bill Moyers, PBS show, NOW. Safina realized early on that belief motivates people to change in a way scientists don’t. Safina participated in an effort to bridge communication between faith and science by traveling to Alaska with a group of religious and scientific leaders. This transformational journey is a marker for the climate catastrophe we are now even more deeply (if unwittingly) engaged in.

Safina included graphs from NOAA showing the dire decline and collapse of world fisheries. When asked about CITES monitoring capacity in the face of Japan’s voting influence on non-whaling, non-fishery, poorer countries, Safina expressed his hope that CITES would find a rational solution and policy in the future, but underscored that the “environmental community is reeling” from the cynical actions” of a few.

My hope for this rational policy improvement is with Safina and the deep blue sea.

Carl Safina signs books at Hopkins Marine Station, Monterey

Carl Safina signs books at Hopkins Marine Station, Monterey