Marine conservation is vital to safeguard Earth's oceans, preserving their biodiversity, ecosystems, and the services they provide. Overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change threaten marine life. Conservation efforts involve creating marine protected areas, enforcing sustainable fishing practices, reducing plastic waste, and mitigating climate impacts.
In our community. We've got an amazing organization called Mars, Mars, Mars. And now they've been doing so. They're massive corporation and they've been doing coral restoration projects for 15 years now. They've been doing amazing projects all over the world and regenerating coral reefs. It's just the most amazing thing. So we recently started working with them to tell their story and our co-founder of Ocean Culture, Life Times and Rain went out to the Sheba reef that day, the reef that they're doing in Indonesia.
And this was once a barren reef. There was nothing, there was all bleached. And there over the last few years they've just managed to grow this amazing coral reef that's full of life and it's just like it's like it was never dead. It's just the most amazing thing. And Tamsin got back last month and she was quite like emotional.
She was like, It's just incredible and it really does give you hope to see organizations doing this kind of thing.
Hello and welcome to Rethink What Matters, the podcast dedicated to aligning the economy with the ecology and everyone for improved business performance, stronger families and a greener, cooler planet. And today I'm joined by Alexandra Faura Sustainability associate at True and Board member of Ocean Culture Life Charity in Jersey. And we're going to be discussing marine conservation. You know, in Haiti.
You know, it doesn't take long when we think about marine conservation to come up with ocean acidification, ocean warming, you know, coral reefs receding, plastics in the ocean. There seem to be so many challenges to marine conservation. And it's such an important part of, you know, such an important part of the world. I first we could if you could start off by telling us a bit more about true and ocean culture, life, charity and your role.
Yeah, of course. So now just to go back to what you said earlier, we know exactly we do need to remind ourselves that the ocean takes up 70% of the Earth's surface, and most of that is international waters. And there's no rules and regulations out there. So we really don't even know, like we know the slightest slightest amount of detail of what's actually happening out in the oceans right now.
So it's really important that we that we tell the stories of what people are doing out in ocean and what's happening the good and the bad. So, yeah, well, basically what we did ocean culture life, we are a Jersey based charity and we have a community of over 500 guardians and storytellers all around the world. So we are based in Jersey, but we have global impact and we helping these individuals and organizations tell the stories about the positive impact that they're having on the ocean.
So we kind of bridging the gap between science and storytelling and giving a voice to the ocean, which is actually our most undervalued asset and most underfunded SDG. And even though it is literally fundamental to life on Earth, I think people forget it because they don't have an emotional connection to it or they don't actually see the impacts of what's happening out in oceans.
Yeah, so I've been volunteering for Ocean Culture Life for the past sort of five months, but supporting them and following their journey for the past two years, we just yeah, I think two years old now and our founders are Tamsin Reid and Matt Porteous. Matt Porteous is a storyteller himself. He's an amazing ocean photographer. And yeah, so that's my passion project.
I like to say I love, I love the work I do with Ocean Life. I'm just connecting with individuals all over the world that are doing amazing work. So my day to day job, but I don't like to call it a job as I work for True, which is a sustainability consultancy. And I say that and I support a job because I love what I do.
And it's all about aligning organizations to the SDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals, and helping them improve their impact across all the SDGs.
So just recently the Arctic Ocean was in the news because it's been the warmest it's ever been. And yeah, to you that's happening. What's, what's the impact of that that you're saying.
Yeah it's it's quite frightening. I think the record is broken and it's 20.96 degrees Celsius an average, which is far greater than any temperature we've seen in the past. And the knock on effect of marine heatwaves and marine temperatures reaching these kind of extortionate heats is it's dramatic. And there's a few points I can touch on with this.
The first one is that the oceans are our largest carbon sink and absorb so much carbon from the atmosphere. I think it's it's more than 25% of carbon emissions go into the ocean and the oceans are so saturated carbon and reaching such high and seas and temperatures that they're unable to absorb carbon. So this carbon, so we're having to stand atmosphere which then accelerates global warming even further.
And then we in this horrible cycle, you know, so that's the one thing. So the second thing is the sea glaciers are melting, and this is going to have a really negative effect on sea levels increasing. And I actually before this podcast, I was on a I was on LinkedIn and I saw an article that someone posted on what's happening out in Slovenia and they had floods this week, two thirds of Slovenia was destroyed in the flood.
And now the knock on effects that this has on the social development SDGs and and how much is it going to cost to like, redevelop this country? It's it is terrible. And that's just one of the other things that we're going to get with these increasing sea temperatures right. Yeah. The third yeah. So just to touch on the last thing, which for me is, is the most significant point is the coral bleaching that's going to come from the sea level as the sea temperatures increasing.
Yeah. So another thing that I saw in the news, which is a knock on effect of the sea temperatures increasing, is that there was a 100% coral mortality in in a coral reef restoration site of Florida. Now this is something that we're definitely going to see more of in the years to come, and it's devastating. And then there was another thing, again, due to sea temperatures increasing, which is that in the Texas Gulf, on the Texas Gulf Coast, there was just tens of thousands of fish, dead fish that were on the shore there.
And it's just it's really sad to see this because I can I can this is it's only going to get worse in the years to come if we don't start to do something about it now. And the the social development goals that we're trying to achieve as well are really going to be the progress towards. It's really not going to be great because of the knock on effects of what's happening in the oceans, right?
Yeah. I mean, I've also heard that the ocean warming causes the ocean to expand, which is another driver of sea levels rising.
Yeah, exactly. So there's going to be some coastal communities. I think Venice is one of them, actually. I know Venice is one of them. It's already going underwater.
And another topic that's often in the news is plastics. Plastics in the ocean. There's this Atlantic garbage patch, and then there's the Pacific Garbage Patch. And you have stories about that.
Actually, it's yeah, it's really it's really frightening to see. I'm quite lucky. In Jersey, we do a lot of beach things here, but we don't see it visually here. So we have an ocean culture life. We have workshops that we run with the schools throughout the year and we do beach cleans with them and we educate them on the Sustainable Development Goals, but obviously focus on SDG 14 and the importance of SDG 14.
And you know, they've grown up in Jersey and they don't see the amount of plastic on the beaches and stuff and we show them pictures of what's happening around the world and what shorelines do look like. I mean, in South Africa, it's crazy. You cannot walk a meter along the beach without just filling up a bucket of rubbish.
It's yeah. So we trying to not freak out the children in Jersey, but show them what's happening around the world and educate them on the impact that they as individuals are having if they don't recycle and and use products sustainably and think about what they purchasing and think about the lifecycle of that product, the purchasing products.
And we do talk a lot about coral reefs and the receding and the such. They're so beautiful under the coral reefs, but are they more important to marine life than just being very beautiful in terms of the marine ecosystem, if you like?
Yeah, it's a significant amount of marine life live and rely on coral reefs as their homes. So when when sea temperatures are increasing, it causes the algae that grows on, that provides energy for the coral reefs, it causes the algae to expel it, to wear the coral kind of cooling down in a way. But this it it expells the algae.
And over the back of that, it doesn't have energy for photosynthesis and so dies. And we call this coral bleaching. And once coral has bleached, it goes it's white color and it's not so pretty anymore. I've seen lots of bleached coral reefs and it's really quite emotional and scary to see because at that point, the ocean marine life there, the ecosystem has to move on to go find another coral reef.
And yeah, I mean, just to tell you a story, I was in Bali a few years ago and I'm I love scuba diving. It's something that I've grown up with and I've scuba dived in many different reefs in the world. And I went diving in and to Ghana and Bali and Indonesia and we went out and got down to the bottom and I expected to see this abundance of life.
You know, it's body scuba diving in Bali and it just as far as I could see was it was literally a coral graveyard and it was the most emotional thing to see. There was absolutely no sea life there, no fish. It was just devastating. And there is there is hope. I'm just to tell you another story at Ocean Culture Life, we have in our community.
We've got an amazing organization called Mars. I don't know if you know Mars bars.
And that's the chocolate bar. Yeah.
Yeah. So Mars, that's the conglomerate. And within that, they've got a few other brands and Sheba Sheba cat food. I'm not sure if you're aware of that, but Sheba Cat food is one of their brands and now they've been doing so. They're massive corporation and they've been doing coal restoration projects for 15 years now. They've been doing amazing projects all over the world, regenerating coral reefs.
It's just the most amazing thing. But they've never been able to tell the story. They've never had the time and resources and whatever it may be. They've never known how to tell the story of the impact that they having. So we recently started working with them to tell their story. And our co-founder of Ocean Culture, Life Tamsin Rai went out to the Sheba reef that day, the reef that they're doing in Indonesia.
And this was once a barren reef. There was nothing, there was all bleached. And there over the last few years they've just managed to grow this amazing coral reef that's full of life and it's just like it's like it was never dead. It's just the most amazing thing. And Tamzin got back last month and she was quite like emotional.
She was like, It's just incredible. And it really does give you hope to see organizations doing this kind of thing. So yeah, it's.
Possible that it's possible to restore bleached coral.
So you can't restore it as and you can't bring it back to life once, once it's bleached, it's bleached. But basically what you do is you take a you cut off a small piece of coral that is still alive and you tied onto these structures. They're like star shaped structures. And then it starts to grow kind of like a garden and and they're planted like thousands of these coral restoration structures all over this reef.
And it's just grown into this amazing, beautiful ecosystem. And fish have starting to come back. It just began. It's like a few fish and all. There's like manta rays and turtles and it's yeah, it's incredible.
So mangroves comes up quite a bit as well, you know, for carbon offsetting mangroves apparently are a great, great resource. Yeah. But they too with salt marshes and seagrass beds, they, they form an important part of sort of coastal ecosystems. Really.
Yeah, exactly. So we actually another one of our ocean guardians is a organization in Jersey that are helping. We've got a massive seagrass ecosystem here in one of our ports, and they're protecting this this port or harbor and let the sea grass grow because it's at sea coast rates, a lot of carbon and it absorbs a lot of carbon and which is what we need.
We need, you know, as I said earlier, the carbon, the ocean is our largest carbon sink. So we need organizations like this that are protecting these areas so that it can continue to absorb the carbon that we don't want an atmosphere. So that's another one of our ocean guardians that are that are doing incredible things locally in Jersey, which is great.
Great and marine protected areas. Can you tell us a little bit about those please.
Yeah. So marine protected areas, they basically areas around a coastline that's, you know, a lot of dredging or do any unsustainable fishing practices in them. And so you all out like out scallops or fish or off a rod or whatever, any sustainable fishing you of course are allowed to do. But any of the horrible other types of unsustainable fishing, you know, a lot of do in those areas.
AlexandraAnd I've got a story about this too, actually. I was out in Fiji in 2019 and I was doing a marine conservation project where we were basically assessing this marine protected area. It was just a little island called Taveuni and it was a very remote island. There was no like kind of big communities there, no tourism, nothing like that.
So I had expected to see again an abundance of life. It's a marine protected area in a remote area, a remote island like, you know, a city. There'd be a lot of sea life. And there was just nothing. There was hardly any fish. There were all the coral was bleached. And the reason why the call was beach wasn't actually this time because directly because of the ocean being too warm.
There it was because they had too many crown of thorns. Crown of thorns. It's basically like a and it's it kind of looks like a giant starfish. And they go over the coral and they eat the algae of it and they reproduce really quickly. And so within a matter of days they can destroy a whole coral reef. So we were basically, as horrible as it sounds, we actually had to they had to cut the number of coral of a crown of thorns in that area and extract if there were too many because they were another, they were just destroying the reef there.
So that was a marine protected area and it wasn't looking great, but it wasn't because of human activity, it was more because of just this ecosystem was off balance and there were too many crown of thorns and.
And invasions and invasive species.
Yes, exactly. Then invasive species.
Habitat destruction is obviously a really, you know, big problem on land as it is below or below the sea, below in the oceans. And how much of habitat is habitat destruction do you see in the way that you're doing or the stories that you're coming across?
So one that comes to mind, a story that I actually heard recently, which is quite a devastating story. So again, out in Indonesia, there's a lot of coral reefs there. And the local fishermen there's kind of because of the coral bleaching that's happening out there, there's kind of a lack of fish in the sea as it is. And some of the local fishermen are going out and they have these like explosive bombs they called coral bombs, I believe, and they throw them into coral reef.
And instead of just, you know, fishing a few fish, it destroys the whole entire reef and all the fresh fish float to the surface. And that's how they collect their fish. And so that's a good example of habitat destruction that's happening. And it's probably not only in Indonesia, it's I mean, Tamzin was saying she was literally snorkeling the one day looking over the the Sheba coral restoration project, and she just had this boat and the water and you just know, okay, that's another coral reef gone and.
Something of a movie. It's literally fish float to the surface crazy.
You just yeah, that's why we have to tell the stories of what's happening in the world, the good and the bad, because both can can change your actions and help you do something about about it.
And that brings us on to perhaps, you know, there are there are cultural practices here. There are there are there are ways that people live and make their living, you know, in terms of fishing and how much of that is an issue for you. You know, their whole way of life is dependent on the way that they fish or they interact with the oceans.
The main kind of worry that I have with the future that we of literally going to live in one day because we're not doing enough at the moment, is is the impact that by not achieving SDG 14, the impact that that's going to have on local communities, there is a massive amount of communities around the world that rely on seafood as their main source of protein, and there are local communities all over the world that rely on fishing as a form of income.
And I'm not talking about the big dredging harbor boats and talking about local fishermen that are walking along the beach just trying to make a living and try trying to have a job and making an income. So the impact that that that destroying the ocean is going to have on communities around the world is is quite frightening. And we talk a lot about in the workshops at Ocean Culture Life I do with the local school kids here.
We talk a lot about the impact that is the interconnectedness between SDG 14 and the other Sustainable Development goals. And by achieving SDG 14, you know, you can help achieve no poverty, which is SDG one and zero Hunger and good health and wellbeing and affordable and clean energy and decent work and economic growth. There's just so many connections between the SDGs.
So by helping achieve SDG14 you really are off the back of that impacting so many other SDGs.
That's such a good point, is something which we try to focus on the boardroom as well is very much about joining up the dots. Yeah, so on the SDGs so the more joined up the our the better. And SDG8 is decent work and economic growth. Yeah so for us of the WaterAid that's the central SDG you know if we can get that right whilst you know whilst supporting the other SDGs and making sure they are a part of decent work and economic growth, then we really create the future that we all want to see.
And if we don't connect them up, then we can't do it. Actually, I don't believe in, you know, the SDGs. They're embedded in 193 governments around the world, but not many people know about them, which is a bit crazy.
It's it is quite scary. The amount of people that don't know about the Sustainable Development Goals. And we really need to also I guess you mentioned culture life. We are so in a way just trying to give a voice to the SDGs and just let that be a common language. Everyone should know about them. And it's interesting you said that and how do you guys focus on decent work and economic growth?
Because I have always and actually wrote a dissertation on this when I was at university. I've always said that individuals always have individuals and organizations always have one focus. They always have one that they like to try to focus on, which is great. I for me that SDG 14 but it is important that we while achieving that goal, we look at all the other SDGs as well.
And so yeah it's yeah so I guess it ocean culture life we've we've obviously focusing on HSG 14 but also keeping in mind and so educating people on other SDGs just as you guys are with SDG eight.
I think you just give me an idea for a great survey actually just to go out into the streets and ask people their favorite SDG.
That's literally what I did in my dissertation. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So yeah, it's really interesting. And, and we did at an organization level as well. I and I sent out a survey once to our, to the employees at our office and I, and I said what is your favorite SDG and why. And it was so interesting to see that literally every single person had a different kind of focus SDG, that they like to dedicate a little bit of extra time towards.
So mammals, what's the impact that the impacts would be having on one of the mammals in the oceans, the dolphins and whales?
Yeah. Well I think the there's a, there's going to be a major and it has already been a major disruption in different ecosystems because of the sea temperatures increasing and basically big mammals are having to relocate to colder to cool the oceans and that disrupts the whole ecosystem. And actually, I think it was one or two years ago when I when I went back to South Africa and I heard stories about how shark livers were washing up on the shores.
And this is something that no one had ever seen before. And we couldn't work out what was going on. Like what Predator does a great white shark have in the South African oceans? And turns out that it was the killer whales. They were coming up towards South Africa and and going for the great white shark livers. And I think this is another thing that we're going to see more frequently specifically this example, but we're going to see more frequently and random events of, you know, mammals, marine mammals being found in locations that they haven't been before and maybe finding new predators or.
Yeah, it's really disrupt the ecosystems.
So aside from the storytelling, what else are you doing to get your message out there and to help with marine conservation? You mentioned some workshops that you're running.
Yeah, So there's a few different things and there's a few things in the works that are coming out next year, which I can give you a little preview on the like. So the one thing is every year we run grants where organizations donate to charity and to like a grand part. And one of our guardians and storytellers will submit a story to us or a project that they want to do, but they need funding for and we will go through.
We have external examiners that go through these grant applications and they're also amazing and we hope to get to a point one day where we can support all of them. But at the moment we support about 15 grants I think got to be at five. This year we're doing 15 grants and we give them a bit of money to help them tell their story or expand the impact.
And then another way locally in Jersey, we run workshops with the different schools here and we teach them about the Sustainable Development Goals and focus on SDG 14. So what's to come? Which is super exciting for Ocean Culture life. We've had quite a few organizations recently come to us and ask how they can help, and I'm talking like the law firms and like mass corporations in Jersey.
And they said, How can we help? Can we can you guys run CSR Day for us, which is a corporate social responsibility day and CSR is great because they create impact and it does do something with its beach cleans or helping out of the workshop, whatever it might be. But we really want to expand on the impact and take and take organizations through a partnership journey.
So what we implemented from next year is we basically going to take organizations that want to get involved in Ocean Culture life and support us through CSR days or or donating to us. We take them through a year long partnership by which every quarter we run a workshop with them where we educate them on what's happening around the world in terms of marine conservation and what ocean life doing.
And yeah, running these workshops throughout the year. And in those workshops we educate them on sustainable development goals, SDG 14 what's happening around the world in terms of marine conservation and what they can do both at an individual and an organization level. And then throughout the year, along with those workshops, we are going to have CSR days type things that they can get involved in in terms of on the ground impact in Jersey.
So that's really exciting.
How can they reach if they want to find out more about that, where should they go?
So we are in the process of launching a platform on our website by which you can go. If you're an individual or an organization, you can get involved with us through volunteering and enable us to have or scale workshops. And then for organizations, we'll have an area on our website where they can select a day and a time and the amount they want to donate and what their budget is for the Partnership for the year.
And so that is all in the works and we are going to launch that in January next year.
Right. And what's the website address?
The website is Ocean Culture Dot Life.
So just tell us how many actually how many people are there in ocean ocean culture life and how many employees.
So we are really tiny, actually. We have two co-founders, Matt Porteous and Tamsin Raine. And then in terms of volunteers, it's just me and Lindsey Raine, who's Tamsin sister. And then we have got a secretary on the board, which is Sina. So there's just five of us, but we don't like to see it as we're the only people in the team because we really have a community and it's the community that's part of the team.
You know, they and they are the brand and they're telling the stories.
So what's your biggest frustration that you.
My biggest frustration. Oh, I guess I want to frame it as the message I want to give to organizations and individual organizations and individuals separately. A big frustration in terms of organizations is that they just aren't doing enough. We in the last few months, we've seen the impacts of climate change and global warming on the oceans and on the land, but specifically for us, on the oceans.
And that should be enough to make you want to change the way you do things. We really, really, really need to reduce our carbon emissions. We are reaching we are fast approaching the 1.5 degree global warming Paris Agreement number that we've all been seeing everywhere for the past few years. And once we get to that 1.5 degree global warming increase, we're going to have lost 70 to 90% of our coral reefs and to a point that they cannot be they cannot come back to life, they will be bleached and destroyed.
And that is really frightening when you when you're working in the ocean space and you constantly say on a daily basis, these these are marine ecosystems being destroyed. And on the flip side, you're not seeing organizations doing enough. It is really frustrating. So I would love organizations to take Mars as an as an example. And with what Mars is doing around the world, what they coral restoration projects, take that as an example and improve your impact and do things like that because of every organization around the world.
Did what Mars was doing and did something impactful in the ocean space, we would be in a completely different space. And then and to tell that story, most importantly, you know, they need to they need to really tell the story of the impactful things they're doing. And when they are doing good, tell people that you're doing good. And yeah, we need to get rid of the greenwashing.
I think that you want to talk about your frustration on the individual side of it.
I wouldn't say it's a frustration on the individual side of things. I think as an individual you can be doing a lot like you can be with cycling and cycling and cycling to work and composting and all of those amazing things that definitely do have an impact. Don't if you're doing those things, don't for one second think that you that it's not doing any good because it really is.
But I think at an individual level we really need to think about the organizations that we are supporting. We need to have a look at organizations and critically analyze what the impact is. And, you know, distinguish greenwashing from not greenwashing. I mean, it's only supports organizations that really are having a good impact and doing good because that in return is going to force an organization to do better.
And then again, at an individual level, tell your story. And it doesn't necessarily need to be through photographing. You can do what I do and write and speak to people and well, you can do Ocean Culture Life, one of our one of our brands images on all of our merchandise. It's all drawn by one of the ocean storytellers.
He's an artist and he draws pictures about the ocean and marine conservation. So you can tell your stories in many shapes and forms that it's really important that we tell stories because it does really have a massive impact on people's actions.
I think really does. It really does. And especially with the oceans, because I think people are very tend to be very remote from the oceans and the seas. And then they're not really that close to the most people are living next to the sea. So they really need these stories and pictures that they tend to bring home to them.
Yeah, well, I think back to how the ocean impacts life on land and interconnectedness between the different goals. You may not be living near the ocean and you may not see on a daily basis what's happening under the ocean. But if you're in a country right now that's experiencing flooding and fires and all of those other horrible, extreme events that is off the back of global warming and also off the back of what's happening in the oceans, the ocean is it's reaching a point where it's not able to absorb any more carbon, which is accelerating global warming and causing these extreme weather events that are happening around the world.
So whether you live inland or by the sea, you do and you will feel the impacts of global warming on the ocean.
And to what extent do different governments get involved in helping the cause of marine conservation.
In terms of like rules and regulations? In Jersey with fishing, we do obviously have marine protected areas on areas that you can't fish fish in and can fish in a media as the restrictions on what species you can fish at different times of the year. And the problem I think, comes in with the big dredges out in the international seas where there on are rules and regulations and they can take what they want and it's every man for himself.
And I think that's where the problem comes in and who implements the rules and regulations for that. I'm not sure, but I know that something does need to be done about it. And maybe it's maybe it's just the pressure from consumers and from organizations. Yeah. And I think one thing that you can do is just when you buy seafood, take it sustainably sourced.
All seafood now in the shop should have a some kind of label on there telling that it's been sustainably sourced or where it's come from. And that's a good way to that's a good place to start.
Alexandra, thank you very much for your time on this podcast and sharing with us. You know what you're doing there at Ocean Culture Life Charity and helping to educate all of us on the challenges of marine conservation and just how important it is and sharing your stories with us as well. Thank you.
And thank you so much for your time. Paul. It's been great.