Planet Ocean and the Blue Marine Foundation

Planet Ocean and the Blue Marine Foundation

This interview appeared in Volume 11 of SUITCASE Magazine.

“72 per cent of the earth’s surface is water. We in fact
live on Planet Ocean, not on Planet Earth”

These are the words of Chris Gorell Barnes, the co-founder of
BLUE Marine Foundation. BLUE is a UK-based
ocean conservation charity that was set up in 2010 by some of the
team behind the award-winning documentary The End of The Line.
While the film alerts viewers to the dangers of overfishing, it
ends on an optimistic note, calling the crisis in the oceans ‘the
largest solvable problem on the planet’.

“The ocean has an amazing propensity to recover if you look
after it properly, ” Chris says, explaining that there are two
elements to marine protection. The first lies in creating ‘no-take’
zones while the second supports sustainable fishing. “In reality
the best way is to create a marine-protected area which has no
commercial fishing but that allows sustenance fishing for

Since BLUE’s inception five years ago, the small NGO has been
pivotal in securing the two largest marine reserves in the world.
The first protected area surrounds the Chagos Archipelago in the
Indian Ocean, and the second will span an area of 830,000 square
kilometres around the British overseas territory of the Pitcairn

BLUE is aiming to help protect 10 per cent of the world’s oceans
by 2020. There will be a focus on the management of sustainable
fisheries, but Chris stresses the importance of the travel and
tourism industry’s role in reaching the target. “The demand from
luxury travellers for pristine oceans with fish is high. Who
doesn’t want to go to the hotel with the best ocean? It makes
business sense for a hotel, an island, a country to have
well-protected oceans.”

Through imaginative collaborations, like partnering with KENZO
on a limited edition blue version of its famed Tiger sweatshirt,
BLUE speaks to the future generations. “It needs to be sexy,
right?” Chris says. “The ocean is beautiful and you’ve got to make
it something that people want to get involved in. If you’re going
to stand for something, then make sure it matters. What do you
stand for?”

Chris gives his steps towards sustainability for the world’s

EDUCATE yourself. Most people live in cities so
it’s easy for the ocean to be ‘out of sight and out of mind’. But
the ocean is the life source of the planet, or the ‘blue heart’ as
marine biologist Dr Sylvia Earle calls it. It produces over 50 per
cent of the oxygen we breathe and absorbs over 50 per cent of the
carbon we produce, so every second breath that we take comes from
the ocean.

UNDERSTAND the importance of the world’s oceans
and recognise that the ocean is not just a food source. So much
attention has been given to rainforests, which are hugely
important, but the oceans are so much more vast and home to up to
80 per cent of all life on earth. ASK

QUESTIONS about where the fish that you’re
eating comes from. If you’re being served endangered Bluefin tuna,
then according to WWF’s endangered species list, that is on the
same level as having chimpanzee or tiger. Use the MSC fish guide
and demand that you eat the right fish.

TAKE ACTION and get involved. We’ve set up the
BLUE Marine Yacht Club – Prince Albert of Monaco is a patron and
Ralph Lauren has designed a burgee for exclusive use by BMYC
members. JOIN BLUE is a new fundraising initiative that we’ve set
up for corporations and individuals who want to be part of the
solution to the crisis in the oceans.

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