Friday, January 28, 2011

Dr. Gregory Stone: understanding ocean conservation on the world stage

I first met Dr. Greg Stone some years back when he was heading up research and expeditions for Boston's New England Aquarium. I was there conducting a screening and meet-and-greet for my documentary, Island of the Great White Shark. We spent some time chatting about the oceans and he was kind enough to give me a copy of his book, Ice Island, about Antarctica's largest iceberg.

We next met when I corralled him to be on the shark conservation discussion panel for the inaugural BLUE Ocean Film Festival and Ocean Summit. Soon after that event, Greg took the position of Chief Scientist for Oceans with Conservation International. In that capacity he has been instrumental in working with the Kiribati government to establish the Phoenix Island Marine Reserve, the second largest marine reserve in the world.

Greg was kind enough to once again join the shark conservation panel I organized for the BLUE Ocean Film Festival this past August. His contributions were most insightful as he has not only an extensive grasp of the scientific issues surrounding many of our most pressing ocean conservation issues, but also has a mastery of the political, economic, and diplomatic realities that are crucial in making quantitative progress. We continue to stay in touch and I look forward to meeting up with him again soon, although he has lately been racking up frequent flyer miles like nobody's business. He's currently at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which follows recent meetings in London, Washington D.C., and Australia. He heads back to his new home base in New Zealand when schedules permit.

Greg has been a featured presenter for and a new interview was just posted on Below are a few interview excerpts followed by the presentation. Greg is someone who understands both the critical issues of marine conservation and how the world works. And with that, he gets things done.

"Part of Conservation International's (CI) work builds upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration. We empower societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature and our global biodiversity, for the well-being of people. That last part is key. We humans need healthy ocean ecosystems and abundant natural resources to thrive."

"The issue of profitability is less critical than the understanding and belief that sustainably
managing nature actually improves lives by providing new, diversified or more stable income opportunities. For example, if there are abundant fish and healthy coral reefs, eco-tourism and small-scale fisheries that depend on these resources are more likely to grow and succeed. If people see the livelihood benefits in responsible stewardship of ocean resources, they are more likely to become incentivized to support conservation."

"In order to save the oceans we need to begin to look at the issues in a collective way. In the past marine conservation has been issue driven and hasn't looked at the bigger picture. Now through marine reserves, marine protected areas, seascapes and now oceanscapes we can focus efforts on larger areas of ocean and can work with governments on collectively managing them. As we scale up in size, these areas will provide healthy habitats for diverse and abundant marine life, and also provide homes and income for millions of people."

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