The director in Europe, Xavier Pastor, states that we only have a few decades left to protect and recover our oceans.
Oceana, the first international foundation dedicated exclusively to protecting the world’s oceans by means of campaigns based on scientific research, parliamentary bills, demonstrations and, if necessary, litigation in the courts, officially announced today that it is opening offices for Europe’s oceans and seas. The headquarters will be in the Plaza de España, Madrid. Oceana already has offices in South America (Santiago de Chile), Alaska (Juneau) and Washington.
The marine biologist, Xavier Pastor, is the Director for European Oceans and Seas, and Ricardo Aguilar is head of Research and Projects. Both have dedicated their whole life to environmental conservation, in particular marine ecosystems. Over the last two years, and prior to joining Oceana, Mr. Pastor has led and implemented the MarViva project in the Central American Pacific which aims to protect the Central American biological corridor (Cocos Island, Coiba Island, and the Galapagos Islands) from illegal fishing. The project uses a system of NGO coastguard boats which are coordinated from Costa Rica.
Ricardo Aguilar was previously Director of the FUHEM Centre of Environmental Research. Both are providing Oceana with their 20 years of experience working for Greenpeace International, of which they were founders, and until 2001, Executive Director and Director of Campaigns respectively.
Oceana’s arrival in Europe has had from the offset the full support of the scientific world. Dozens of marine researchers have welcomed the creation of the organization’s new offices.
Oceana has a Scientific Advisory Committee which is led by Dr. Daniel Pauly, of French nationality and director of the Fisheries Centre of the University of British Colombia. Dr. Pauly, who is also on the foundation’s Board of Directors, has been highly acclaimed for his work on marine ecosystems and the deterioration of fish grounds. Last week in the magazine Scientific American, they ranked him as the World’s Leading Scientist.
Also part of the Science Advisory Committee is Dr. Alex Aguilar, professor at the Universidad de Barcelona, a specialist in marine vertebrates and member of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Species Survival Commission. Dr. Aguilar is also a member of the International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee.
In addition to scientists, celebrities such as the actors Ted Danson, Pierce Brosnan and Kelsey Grammer are collaborating with Oceana to help protect the world’s oceans, the flora and fauna that exists within their depths, and also those individuals whose life would be impossible without them. Ted Danson is on Oceana’s Board of Directors, and Pierce Brosnan and Kelsy Grammer on the Honorary Board of Governors.
A legal department, led by a team of international lawyers, has started proceedings against departments of the United States Government, and from now on, its activities will also extend to those European governments and companies who infringe legislation that protects oceans and marine resources.
Oceana is supported by a network of activists working in 150 countries around the world who coordinate their activities in support of the organization’s campaigns.
At its press conference in Madrid, Oceana presented its report “Oceans at risk”, that describes the state of the seas, and warns of the threats faced by marine life: destructive fishing practices, pollution, degraded ecosystems and threatened species, all of which are the result of the continual assault on our oceans.
At the press conference, Xavier Pastor, Director of Oceana in Europe, declared:
“Official bodies such as the FAO are telling us that 70% of fishing grounds are overfished or in danger of overfishing; that most Asiatic fishing grounds contain less than 10% of their original resources; and that 90% of big fishes have already been caught. We only have a few decades left to try to protect and recover our oceans. This is Oceana’s mission”.