Even one drop of water raises the ocean.
Fish are an essential part of the marine ecosystem and when populations are disrupted, every aspect of the ocean will change, from its biodiversity to its water salinity (Zabel et al., 2003). The effects of changes in the ocean will effect everyone on the planet, from consumers, to businesses, to governments, to international organizations. Education is an essential part of successfully implementing our solution. As we outline in our plan, there are many steps that can be taken to reverse the negative trends we see in the ocean fisheries. Some steps need to be taken by individuals, some need to be made by businesses, some need to be enacted by governments. However, the basic foundation that is required for the implementation of these steps is for the people involved to understand the problem and the benefits of the solution. We cannot force the implementation of our plans; our plans need to be accepted. To this end, we recognize that educating people at all levels of involvement is an important part of our plan.
Broad public education
The Demand for Fish
The amount of fish we consume now is twice the amount consumed in 1973. This has be largely due to developing nations, whose urbanization, population and income growth have led to higher levels of animal products consumed. In 1973, China accounted for 11 percent of the global fish consumption, but after 24 years, that number rose to 36 percent (Ahmed et al., 2003). In order to quell the demand for fish, education efforts must reach the developing world and those who are most dependent on fishing.
The Population Crisis
In 1999, the world's population reached 6 billion and has been growing exponentially ever since (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 1999). As the population grows at an ever increasing rate, the ability of the world's natural resources to feed, clothe, and supply everyone becomes increasingly strained. There is an ever-increasing demand for fish, as well as for the possible alternatives to fish. One method of reducing fish consumption would be to inform individuals of the advantages of becoming a vegan or vegetarian, especially in certain rapidly developing countries. Mission 2011 does not support replacing the protein and nutritional value gained from fish with other animal meats, especially cattle: the beef industry is a large contributor to global warming through activities ranging from the clear-cutting of forests to methane production by cattle (Marian, 2007). We do endorse obtaining the necessary nutrients from combinations of grain/wheat/flour and legumes/vegetables/beans. Additional information on combining foods to achieve optimal protein intake from non-animal sources can be found on Protein in the Vegan Diet and on this Protein Information Sheet. We also recognize that protein replacement in societies entirely dependent on fish, or in countries with little arable land, is much more difficult and less practical. In conclusion, Mission 2011 strongly supports education programs that encourage people with access to alternative sources of protein to substantially decrease their consumption of fish (i.e. people in developed countries, like the United States and European Union).
Key groups to educate
Governments are in charge of much regulation and international policy decision, thus they have a great degree of power in any area of management. Our plans require a large degree of international cooperation and national legislation, so knowledgeable governments are critical to the implementation of our plans. The loss of fisheries production will have negative effects on many countries. Unless the governments are aware of these issues, they cannot make the necessary decisions to mitigate these effects.
If businesses understand the benefits they can eventually derive from the protection of the resource upon which they rely, they can become a valuable partner in pressuring governments to implement regulations and to join international conservation movements.
Incentives for fishermen and large-scale fisheries to implement sustainable policies must be clearly identified and promoted. Fisheries should also be made aware that proceeding along the status quo will only cause further damage, and eventually deplete the industry beyond a profitable level. Education through activities such as workshops has the potential to convince the industry that changing fishing practices will improve production and profitability over the long term. Broadcasting the existence of government incentives for switching to environmentally friendly fishing methods will also be an element of the education campaign.
People should be encouraged to understand that there is a problem with the ocean and that their daily efforts and attitudes can ultimately prevent a global disaster. The problem the world faces now concerns not only fish, or even merely the oceans, but rather is a part of the global exploitation of the Earth's resources. Examples of methods to engage the interest of individuals include, but are not limited to: documentaries, advertisements, books, and school programs to teach children to value and preserve the environment.
One possible method for raising public awareness of the issue of the world's fisheries is to follow the lead of other global activists. An excellent example is former United States Vice-President Albert Gore and his film, "An Inconvenient Truth." Gore succeeded in executing a "multimedia plan for informing the public about the dangers of global warming" (Koeppel, 2007). What if Gore's tactic was applied to raising awareness about global fisheries?
The commercial success of Gore's film is quite apparent. It has become the fourth highest grossing documentary in history and earned two Oscars at the 2006 Academy Awards (Wray, 2006). Even more impressive is that the film earned half of its revenue outside the United States (Koeppel, 2007). The success of the film means that there are now many more people around the world who have some idea of the devastating effects that global warning will have on our planet. And perhaps many of those people now possess more motivation to do something about mitigating those effects. It also suggests that there is an appetite among the public for information about our planet. If we appeal to that appetite by presenting the facts of a global issue in a format that is interesting, entertaining, and easily accessible, we can reach a wide audience with our message, both domestically and abroad.
Several factors other than pure entertainment value contributed to the popularity of "An Inconvenient Truth". One of these factors was the identity of the narrator: a former presidential candidate who is memorable, engaging, and controversial for his own sake Another factor is the widespread knowledge about global warming that already exists in popular culture. In order for a film about the plight of global fisheries reach a sizable audience, we would have to have similar assets on our side: both a well-known public figure (or several figures) presenting the message and simultaneous educational campaigns to raise awareness about the problem that are separate from promotion of the film itself. Used properly, film and media will be powerful tools in the fight to save the oceans.
In developed countries, it is also important to educate people on the impact of sportsfishing, which has risen 9% in the past five years (NOAA, 2007). People no longer have the luxury of fishing for recreation: fish populations globally are at risk, and each fish taken out of the ocean makes a difference. In order to feed those who are most dependent on fish, and in order to bring the oceans back to MSY, we must advocate the end of sportsfishing. However, in cases where sportsfishing is critical to a local economy or is still strongly desired, sportsfishing should be implemented on a catch-and-release basis only, with strong enforcement of catch limits as set by a government.
- Developed countries should be encouraged to aid less-developed countries in adapting to non-fish economies (e.g through preferential trade rates for goods and services other than fish) and to aid with educational efforts in those developing countries that may not be able to fund these campaigns.
- Countries should integrate ecology and ocean curricula into their mandatory educational systems so that all students will have a basic exposure to the issues and concepts behind this and other global environmental problems.
- Countries should provide training and job opportunities for fishermen so that the transition from fishing to other jobs is smoother. Training the fishermen for alternative jobs such as aquaculture, ocean research, and regulatory observation on fishing boats would help the fishermen to smoothly shift out of fishing and yet work continue to work in ocean-related vocations.
- Companies should be educated as to the advantages of becoming more sustainable. In the long run it makes businesses more efficient, more profitable, and more competitive.
- Companies interested in sustainability should lobby the government to provide subsidies to companies who fish sustainably (employing equipment that does not harm the ocean environment) or who want to diversify to other fields.
- The public should be educated about the ocean problem and how their everyday actions hold the key to solving this complex problem. This can be achieved by advertisements, and documentaries such as "An Inconvenient Truth" or even by exposure to the problem in popular culture.
- Classes should be introduced at all educational levels, even beyond the mandatory core suggested under "Country Level" educational goals.
- Organization of school and university activities: debates, quizzes, workshops, research opportunities, or competitive activities about how we can become sustainable consumers of our resources would help to spread awareness among people.
- World Ocean Day: Currently there is an Oceans Day Program sponsored by a collaboration between the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education, the California Coastal Commission, Spectral Q Aerial Art and regional partners along the west coast of North America. Spreading such programs worldwide would help create large-scale awareness of the issue.
- Advertisements: Advertising on popular Web sites like Google or Yahoo! will further help in increasing awareness. The Ad Council is currently running a campaign focusing on Oceans Awareness using Ariel from the Disney movie "A Little Mermaid". Extension of such programs will help increase overall knowledge of these issues.
- Campaigns in Public Places: Celebrity endorsement may also help raise awareness as well as money for the cause. Such events can be held at educational institutions or in other public places.