The BLUE: A $10,000 Ocean Conservation Fellowship Grant

Help conserve our oceans

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Wietse van der Werf

Citizen Inspector Network

Wietse van der Werf

The Black Fish is an international organisation that brings together people and the benefits of modern technology to protect the oceans through enforcement of fishing regulations. It currently runs 28 projects in 12 countries around Europe, with an international (entirely voluntary) team of 30 staff, countless volunteers and supporters around the world. The Black Fish puts ordinary citizens at the heart of monitoring and reporting on illegal fishing. Through its Citizen Inspector Network, the organisation is affecting large-scale independent monitoring of Europe's fishing grounds from land, air and sea. Collected evidence on criminal activity is used in direct cooperation with existing enforcement authorities, resulting in prosecutions, confiscations of fishing gear and official investigations. At a United Nations level, The Black Fish works to get illegal fishing recognised as a type of organised crime, opening up criminal fishing to broader international scrutiny. Innovation is key to develop new ways to tackle complex issues. The Black Fish is an initiative takes risks in trying new conservation methods that aren't yet proven to work. It operates drones, boats, monitoring teams and is in the process of developing apps and software to help citizens report on fishing crime directly. It also works to devise clever ways to effectively analyse the evidence it collects on illegal fishing practices. A variety of other technologies (such as GPS trackers) are currently being tested during undercover investigations. The organisation’s Citizen Inspector Network brings an approach to the illegal fishing issue that puts the most fundamental back in charge: ordinary people. Aided by modern technologies, these citizens can help expose and challenge destructive and illegal practices. In addition to exciting technological innovations, it is vital that a larger movement of ordinary people takes note of what is currently happening to the world’s oceans - and that they demand stronger political action to turn the tide on a global scale. http://www.theblackfish.org

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