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  • I'm a marine biologist

  • here to talk to you about the crisis in our oceans,

  • but this time perhaps not with a message you've heard before,

  • because I want to tell you that if the survival of the oceans

  • depended only on people like me,

  • scientists trading in publications,

  • we'd be in even worse trouble than we are.

  • Because, as a scientist,

  • the most important things that I've learned

  • about keeping our oceans healthy and productive

  • have come not from academia, but from fishermen and women

  • living in some of the poorest countries on earth.

  • I've learned that as a conservationist,

  • the most important question is not, "How do we keep people out?"

  • but rather, "How do we make sure that coastal people throughout the world

  • have enough to eat?"

  • Our oceans are every bit as critical to our own survival

  • as our atmosphere, our forests or our soils.

  • Their staggering productivity ranks fisheries with farming

  • as a mainstay of food production

  • for humanity.

  • Yet something's gone badly wrong.

  • We're accelerating into an extinction emergency,

  • one that my field has so far failed abysmally to tackle.

  • At its core is a very human and humanitarian crisis.

  • The most devastating blow we've so far dealt our oceans

  • is through overfishing.

  • Every year, we fish harder, deeper, further afield.

  • Every year, we chase ever fewer fish.

  • Yet the crisis of overfishing is a great paradox:

  • unnecessary, avoidable and entirely reversible,

  • because fisheries are one of the most productive resources on the planet.

  • With the right strategies, we can reverse overfishing.

  • That we've not yet done so is, to my mind,

  • one of humanity's greatest failures.

  • Nowhere is this failure more apparent

  • than in the warm waters on either side of our equator.

  • Our tropics are home to most of the species in our ocean,

  • most of the people whose existence depends on our seas.

  • We call these coastal fishermen and women "small-scale fishers,"

  • but "small-scale" is a misnomer

  • for a fleet comprising over 90 percent of the world's fishermen and women.

  • Their fishing is generally more selective and sustainable

  • than the indiscriminate destruction

  • too often wrought by bigger industrial boats.

  • These coastal people have the most to gain from conservation

  • because, for many of them,

  • fishing is all that keeps them from poverty, hunger or forced migration,

  • in countries where the state is often unable to help.

  • We know that the outlook is grim:

  • stocks collapsing on the front lines of climate change,

  • warming seas, dying reefs, catastrophic storms,

  • trawlers, factory fleets,

  • rapacious ships from richer countries taking more than their share.

  • Extreme vulnerability is the new normal.

  • I first landed on the island of Madagascar two decades ago,

  • on a mission to document its marine natural history.

  • I was mesmerized by the coral reefs I explored,

  • and certain I knew how to protect them,

  • because science provided all the answers:

  • close areas of the reef permanently.

  • Coastal fishers simply needed to fish less.

  • I approached elders here in the village of Andavadoaka

  • and recommended that they close off

  • the healthiest and most diverse coral reefs to all forms of fishing

  • to form a refuge to help stocks recover

  • because, as the science tells us, after five or so years,

  • fish populations inside those refuges would be much bigger,

  • replenishing the fished areas outside,

  • making everybody better off.

  • That conversation didn't go so well.

  • (Laughter)

  • Three-quarters of Madagascar's 27 million people

  • live on less than two dollars a day.

  • My earnest appeal to fish less took no account

  • of what that might actually mean

  • for people who depend on fishing for survival.

  • It was just another squeeze from outside,

  • a restriction rather than a solution.

  • What does protecting a long list of Latin species names mean to Resaxx,

  • a woman from Andavadoaka who fishes every day

  • to put food on the table

  • and send her grandchildren to school?

  • That initial rejection taught me that conservation is, at its core,

  • a journey in listening deeply,

  • to understand the pressures and realities that communities face

  • through their dependence on nature.

  • This idea became the founding principle for my work

  • and grew into an organization that brought a new approach

  • to ocean conservation

  • by working to rebuild fisheries with coastal communities.

  • Then, as now, the work started by listening,

  • and what we learned astonished us.

  • Back in the dry south of Madagascar,

  • we learned that one species was immensely important for villagers:

  • this remarkable octopus.

  • We learned that soaring demand was depleting an economic lifeline.

  • But we also learned that this animal grows astonishingly fast,

  • doubling in weight every one or two months.

  • We reasoned that protecting just a small area of fishing ground

  • for just a few months

  • might lead to dramatic increases in catches,

  • enough to make a difference to this community's bottom line

  • in a time frame that might just be acceptable.

  • The community thought so too,

  • opting to close a small area of reef to octopus fishing temporarily,

  • using a customary social code,

  • invoking blessings from the ancestors to prevent poaching.

  • When that reef reopened to fishing six months later,

  • none of us were prepared for what happened next.

  • Catches soared,

  • with men and women landing more and bigger octopus

  • than anyone had seen for years.

  • Neighboring villages saw the fishing boom

  • and drew up their own closures,

  • spreading the model virally along hundreds of miles of coastline.

  • When we ran the numbers,

  • we saw that these communities, among the poorest on earth,

  • had found a way to double their money in a matter of months, by fishing less.

  • Imagine a savings account

  • from which you withdraw half your balance every year

  • and your savings keep growing.

  • There is no investment opportunity on earth

  • that can reliably deliver what fisheries can.

  • But the real magic went beyond profit,

  • because a far deeper transformation was happening in these communities.

  • Spurred on by rising catches,

  • leaders from Andavadoaka joined force with two dozen neighboring communities

  • to establish a vast conservation area along dozens of miles of coastline.

  • They outlawed fishing with poison and mosquito nets

  • and set aside permanent refuges

  • around threatened coral reefs and mangroves,

  • including, to my astonishment,

  • those same sights that I'd flagged just two years earlier

  • when my evangelism for marine protection was so roundly rejected.

  • They created a community-led protected area,

  • a democratic system for local marine governance

  • that was totally unimaginable just a few years earlier.

  • And they didn't stop there:

  • within five years, they'd secured legal rights from the state

  • to manage over 200 square miles of ocean,

  • eliminating destructive industrial trawlers from the waters.

  • Ten years on, we're seeing recovery of those critical reefs

  • within those refuges.

  • Communities are petitioning for greater recognition

  • of the right to fish

  • and fairer prices that reward sustainability.

  • But all that is just the beginning of the story,

  • because this handful of fishing villages taking action

  • has sparked a marine conservation revolution

  • that has spread over thousands of miles,

  • impacting hundreds of thousands of people.

  • Today in Madagascar, hundreds of sites are managed by communities

  • applying this human rights-based approach to conservation

  • to all kinds of fisheries, from mud crabs to mackerel.

  • The model has crossed borders through East Africa and the Indian Ocean

  • and is now island-hopping into Southeast Asia.

  • From Tanzania to Timor-Leste, from India to Indonesia,

  • we're seeing the same story unfold:

  • that when we design it right,

  • marine conservation reaps dividends that go far beyond protecting nature,

  • improving catches

  • and driving waves of social change along entire coastlines,

  • strengthening confidence, cooperation

  • and the resilience of communities to face the injustice of poverty

  • and climate change.

  • I've been privileged to spend my career

  • catalyzing and connecting these movements throughout the tropics,

  • and I've learned that as conservationists,

  • our goal must be to win at scale,

  • not just to lose more slowly.

  • We need to step up to this global opportunity

  • to rebuild fisheries:

  • with field workers to stand with communities

  • and connect them, to support them to act and learn from one another;

  • with governments and lawyers standing with communities

  • to secure their rights to manage their fisheries;

  • prioritizing local food and job security

  • above all competing interests in the ocean economy;

  • ending subsidies for grotesquely overcapitalized industrial fleets

  • and keeping those industrial and foreign vessels

  • out of coastal waters.

  • We need agile data systems

  • that put science in the hands of communities

  • to optimize conservation to the target species or habitat.

  • We need development agencies, donors and the conservation establishment

  • to raise their ambition to the scale of investment

  • urgently required to deliver this vision.

  • And to get there,

  • we all need to reimagine marine conservation

  • as a narrative of abundance and empowerment,

  • not of austerity and alienation;

  • a movement guided by the people who depend on healthy seas for their survival,

  • not by abstract scientific values.

  • Of course, fixing overfishing is just one step to fixing our oceans.

  • The horrors of warming, acidification and pollution grow each day.

  • But it's a big step.

  • It's one we can take today,

  • and it's one that will give a much-needed boost

  • to those exploring scalable solutions

  • to other dimensions of our ocean emergency.

  • Our success propels theirs.

  • If we throw up our hands in despair,

  • it's game over.

  • We solve these challenges by taking them on one by one.

  • Our overwhelming dependence on our ocean is the solution

  • that has been hiding in plain sight,

  • because there's nothing small about small-scale fishers.

  • They're a hundred million strong and provide nutrition to billions.

  • It's this army of everyday conservationists

  • who have the most at stake.

  • Only they have the knowledge and global reach needed

  • to reshape our relationship with our oceans.

  • Helping them achieve this is the most powerful thing we can do

  • to keep our oceans alive.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

I'm a marine biologist

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B1 US TED conservation fishing marine coastal ocean

【TED】Alasdair Harris: How a handful of fishing villages sparked a marine conservation revolution (How a handful of fishing villages sparked a marine conservation revolution | Alasdair Harris)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2019/11/12
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