Text: Emma Eatough, Blue Marine Foundation
Our ocean is in crisis. Marine life is under threat from climate change, acidification, pollution and invasive species. But these threats are compounded by overfishing, which strips the ocean of life, and so reduces its capacity to produce oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide and regulate the climate. Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) is a UK-based charity dedicated to restoring the ocean to health by addressing overfishing. Our mission, aligned with global conservation targets, is to see at least 30 per cent of the world’s ocean under effective protection by 2030 and the other 70 per cent managed in a responsible way.
Overfishing represents a major food security issue, particularly for the three billion people who rely on both wild-caught and farmed seafood as their primary source of protein. We have to act now to protect our ocean if we are to stave off the worst effects of climate change and a global food crisis.
“We have just squandered one of the greatest resources that we’ve ever had on the planet – wild fish” - Charles Clover, BLUE’s Co-founder and Executive Director
How BLUE works
BLUE aims to restore the ocean to health by creating marine reserves, restoring vital habitats and establishing models of sustainable fishing. Although we are a UK-based charity, we work strategically all over the world in areas that we can make the largest impact. We do this through a combination of top-down interventions to improve governance of our seas, and bottom-up project delivery to restore habitats and help local communities at the front line of ocean conservation.
"Blue Marine is a life raft. Blue Marine knows that while it isn’t too late to save ourselves by saving the oceans, the ticking of the clock is getting louder and louder. Without hysteria or hectoring, Blue Marine gets on with doing effective work that makes a difference – they deserve our support, applause and assistance." - Stephen Fry
Where BLUE works
BLUE’s longest standing flagship project is in Lyme Bay on the south coast of the UK. The reserve is one of the largest marine protected areas in the UK protected from dredging and trawling. The marine life has recovered impressively, and at the same time, the fishermen who fish using sustainable methods can now fish less for the same catch value. Lyme Bay is a model for many of our projects. Since BLUE’s inception, our projects have branched out to span the globe. We work in the UK Overseas Territories, helping to protect the beautiful and biodiverse waters of islands such as St Helena and Ascension. We also work in the Mediterranean Sea, protecting vital carbon storing habitats like seagrass, and in the Maldives, helping local communities connect with the ocean.
Our impact so far
Throughout BLUE’s ten-year existence we have achieved major campaign successes. As part of the Great British Oceans coalition, BLUE has been working with the UK Government to develop and implement the Blue Belt: an ambitious programme to protect at least four million square kilometres of ocean around the UK overseas territories. BLUE has focused in particular on the protection of Ascension, an extraordinary island in the middle of the Atlantic with territorial waters around it nearly the size of France. Until recently Ascension’s waters were being fished by longliners associated with shark finning and human rights abuses. BLUE achieved a closure of 50 per cent of Ascension’s waters in 2016 and then a 100 per cent closure in 2019, thanks to a generous endowment fund pledge from a Blue Marine Yacht Club member. This is just a snapshot of what BLUE has achieved. In total, BLUE has secured commitments to protect over four million square kilometres of ocean.
Blue Marine Yacht Club
BLUE has always worked closely with the yachting industry, part of this being via our very own yacht club. Launched in 2012 by His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco, Blue Marine Yacht Club (BMYC) was formed to unite the world’s yachting community in a clear mission to protect our oceans. The BMYC brings a modern approach to environmental protection. Whether a yacht owner or company, the BMYC provides a platform in which supporters can express their concern for the ocean and desire to protect its future. By donating, providing their support and expertise, they are part of a project that is bringing about real change in the way our oceans are cared for. They are providing a legacy for the world that their children and grandchildren will look back on with pride. All donations received through the BMYC go directly to support BLUE’s work around the world and its mission of protecting at least 30 per cent of the world’s ocean by 2030.
“It is an honour to be a 3-Star Member of the Blue Marine Yacht Club. And at the same time it is a strong motivation to continue our support for BLUE and especially helping to organise the creation of marine protected areas. The state of the oceans is degrading at an alarming rate and it is our responsibility towards the future generations to help save the oceans and the marine life. Everyone can make a contribution – no matter how small – to make a difference.” - Peter Lürssen
Our work does not stop there. We create global media campaigns, host Ocean Awards to recognise ocean heroes and have a host of other projects in progress. Find out more about BLUE and other ways you can support by visiting us on BlueMarineFoundation.com. For regular updates please follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.