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Small Caribbean Island Shows Bold Ocean Leadership: Barbuda Overhauls Reef and Fisheries Management for Sustainability

On August 12th, Barbuda Council signed into law a sweeping set of new ocean management regulations that zone their coastal waters, strengthen fisheries management, and establish a network of marine sanctuaries. This comes after seventeen months of extensive community consultation and scientific research supported by the Waitt Institute. With these new policies, the small island…

To Save Coral Reefs, Start With Parrotfish

  Coral reefs are very complex ecosystems, but luckily managing them sustainably is not. Simply don’t catch fish faster than they reproduce, don’t damage the corals or pollute the water, reduce atmospheric CO2, and protect some areas as marine reserves. That’s easier said than done, and it’s not news. What is new is that an…

West Coast Groundfish Get Certified Sustainable: A Local Fishery Success Story

Last year I had the privilege of sharing some good news from the sustainable seafood world, that the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery had finally shed its perpetual red list status. Today I get to do something similar, by applauding the U.S. West Coast Groundfish IFQ Trawl Fishery for its landmark turnaround and the…

Barbuda Blue Halo: Using the Ocean Without Using it Up

As is easy to do, I have fallen in love with Barbuda. It’s magical. The community, the beaches, the children, the tranquility, the seafood, the ingenuity. But from photographs and stories, it’s clear that when you literally dive beneath the surface, Barbuda is not as magnificent underwater as it once was, or as it could…

3 Questions to Save the Ocean

1. What are your concerns? 2. What do you want your ocean to look like? 3. How can we help you get there? Concept: Empower communities to create a community-driven, science-based sustainable ocean policy that address their concerns, by providing tools and information. Of course, it’s never that simple, but that’s the approach we’re taking in Barbuda,…

What Do You Want Your Ocean to Look Like?

The Waitt Institute has a new mission: empower communities to restore their oceans. This film provides a sneak peak into what that work looks like as we endeavor to preserve livelihoods and cultures by sustainably managing ocean resources. It’s a vignette of one island’s commitment to finding solutions. This installment features the community-driven mapping work of…

Listen to Your Elders: Words From Barbudan Fisherman Larkin Webber

I was putting up posters in Barbuda for an upcoming community consultation meeting about Barbuda Blue Halo Initiative, when I had the pleasure of meeting Larkin Webber. Mr. Webber, now 75 years old, has fished in Barbuda’s waters his entire life. He became a full-time fisherman in 1976. He raised seven children on fishing. He has seen…

Ask: What do you want your ocean to look like? Then listen.

There is a lot of talk in conservation about “community-based” and “stakeholder-driven” projects, but what does that really mean? When pursued honestly, it can be summarized in one word: vulnerability. The Waitt Institute’s evolving approach to ocean conservation is based on asking a community two questions: What do you want your ocean to look like?…

Explaining the Barbuda Ocean Initiative on Live TV

I’ve been writing here about the Barbuda Ocean Initiative, which the Waitt Institute is coordinating. In essence, it’s about asking a community what they want their future ocean to look like and figuring out how to get there. It’s an exciting model for island-wide, comprehensive ocean zoning and sustainable management of fisheries. It’s science-based, collaborative,…

Assessing Barbuda’s Ecosystems – What’s Under the Water?

Before making changes to ocean management, it helps to know something about the status of living creatures and ecosystems you’re trying to use sustainably. So, nine marine biologists* (plus me makes ten) descended on Barbuda in May to conduct an ecological assessment of the fish, coral, lobster, conch, and water quality within 3 miles of…

Caribbean Nations Must Think Bigger and Act Boldly and Soon to Sustain Ocean Resources

I was honored to be asked to speak at the Caribbean Challenge Initiative’s Summit of Political and Business Leaders, which took place in the British Virgin Islands May 17th and 18th. (See AP story for an overview of the event.) I spoke from the heart, and here is what I said: At the risk of…

Listen to Your Elders: Wisdom from Papa Joe, Barbuda’s Oldest Fisherman

This past weekend I spent an afternoon with Barbudan fisherman Josiah “Papa Joe” Deazle and his family. 82 years old, still fishing, lucid, and so wise. I interviewed him as part of the Waitt Foundation’s Barbuda Ocean Initiative, and it was an honor. He was in the midst of his children and grandchildren who jogged his memory and…

Fishermen Develop New Business Models to Save Their Communities

Theresa Peterson has been an Alaska fisherman for three decades. During summer break one year in college she went to Homer, Alaska, to work in a cannery. She lived in a tent with friends. But after four days of being cooped up in the factory she decided she wanted to get a job on a…

Solution: Escape Gaps for Fish Traps

Bycatch. That’s the fish that fishers didn’t mean to catch but did – baby fish, species people don’t like to eat, fish no one will buy. High levels of bycatch make fishing unsustainable, not to mention it’s a huge waste. So what can be done about it? Well, that depends on the type of fishing gear…

Celebrating the Launch of the Barbuda Blue Halo Initiative

How do you publicly launch an island-wide ocean zoning initiative aimed at sustainable use of ocean resources? A party with a steel band, of course. Or better yet, two parties. The Blue Halo Initiative diplomatic launch celebration (photo album, press coverage) took place aboard the Waitt vessel, anchored a few hundred meters off Barbuda’s coast. It…