Chris Gorell Barnes, Co-Founder of the Blue Marine Foundation: Q&A
1) What’s your role in the Marine Foundation and what inspired you to support this cause?
I am the co-founder of The Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) with my friend, George Duffield after the success of the award-winning documentary film The End of the Line, for which I was executive producer.
I am happiest when I am by the sea: “It restores me and makes me feel alive – I want to do all I can to protect it.”
We live on Planet Ocean, the ocean is the heart of the planet and without a healthy marine eco-system we are doomed. Oceans account for 72% of our planet, 90% of large fish are gone, BLUE’s mission is to protect 10% of world’s oceans by 2020.
2) When did the Blue Marine Foundation begin?
The Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) is a UK-based charity, established in 2010 by the team behind the film The End of the Line, which brought the world’s attention to the crisis of over-fishing. BLUE was set up to enable the creation of marine reserves and establish models of sustainable fishing. In its five-year existence, BLUE has already achieved a huge amount of impactful ocean conservation, including catalysing the creation the world’s largest fully protected marine reserve in Chagos in 2010 and helping to persuade the government to create an even bigger reserve around Pitcairn in the Pacific in 2015.
3) What projects are you working on at the moment?
BLUE’s projects span the globe. We have projects here in the UK and around the world.
As part of the marine reserves coalition, BLUE is trying to establish fully protected marine reserves around the UK Overseas Territories. Already, thanks to BLUE and our fellow NGOs, the UK government has announced the designation of the world’s largest marine reserve around Pitcairn in the Pacific and has pledged to create a ‘blue belt’ around Ascension in the Atlantic and its other Overseas Territories. This is a potentially a huge gain for marine protection and has been described as ‘the greatest conservation commitment by any government ever.’
BLUE’s project in Lyme Bay has uniquely brought together fishermen, conservationists and regulators to create a new model of sustainable fishing through scientifically informed, best-practice management. Using the valuable lessons learned from Lyme Bay, BLUE is embarking on an ambitious project to restore the collapsed native oyster fishery in the Solent and is looking into working in the Blackwater Estuary.
In addition to the above projects, we are looking into projects in the Mediterranean, Caspian Sea, and The Caribbean.
4) What has been the most interesting/successful project you’ve worked on?
BLUE’s first huge achievement came in 2010 when we catalysed the creation of the world’s largest fully protected marine reserve in the world around Chagos in the Indian Ocean, doubling the amount of ocean under protection in the world at the time.
This was an incredibly exciting victory for us, especially as it happened in the first year of BLUE’s existence. We are all incredibly proud of this.
5) Could you tell us a bit about the Blue Marine Yacht Club and how it helps marine life?
The Blue Marine Yacht Club (BMYC) was launched in 2012 under the patronage of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco. The BMYC aims to raise awareness and secure funding, uniting the global yachting community with a shared goal to protect the world’s oceans.
The yachting sector represents a powerful resource of expertise, funding and global influence to enable important action and change.
Yacht owners, brokers, builders, marinas and suppliers are joining the BMYC at the client and corporate level to express their concern for the ocean and desire to protect its future.
All revenues raised go directly to support initiatives backed by the Blue Marine Foundation, a UK based charity with ocean conservation and regeneration projects worldwide.
BMYC members fly a Ralph Lauren designed club burgee as an elegant symbol of their commitment to marine regeneration.
7) We noticed you’ve got a restaurant guide called ‘fish to fork’, what is the best restaurant you’ve been to for sustainable fishing?
Hix in Lyme Regis is my favourite restaurant and only serves fish from sustainable sources.
8) Which celebrities support BLUE?
We are lucky to have a great support network at BLUE and amongst our ambassadors we have some wonderful celebrity supporters who are very much behind our cause. These include Sienna Miller, Stephen Fry, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Simon & Yasmin Le Bon, Cara and Poppy Delevingne and Melanie Laurent.
Helena Bonham Carter was photographed by John Swannell posing naked with a bigeye tuna as part of Fishlove’s 2015 campaign. Through their campaigns, Fishlove aims to highlight the plight our seas are facing from destructive fishing practices.
This year, our corporate partner Reef Knots released their Bluefin tuna tie in aid of BLUE, which was worn by Richard Branson.
9) What’s your favourite marine animal?
A Manta Ray. To me, they are the most beautiful of marine creatures. I’d encourage everyone who gets the opportunity to dive with them to do so!
10) Where’s your favourite place in the world for marine life?
The Maldives. I’m lucky to have been many times and the waters around the islands are pristine. The marine life there is extremely colourful and there is a whole array of different species. Also so excited for BLUE’s new project in Maldives.
11) What involvement did you have in the documentary The End Of The Line and what was the main subject of the documentary?
I was the executive producer of The End of the Line.
The End Of The Line is the world’s first major documentary about the devastating effect of overfishing and examines the imminent extinction of bluefin tuna, brought on by increasing western demand for sushi; the impact on marine life resulting in huge overpopulation of jellyfish; and the profound implications of a future world with no fish that would bring certain mass starvation.
Filmed over two years, The End of the Line follows the investigative reporter Charles Clover (BLUE’s Chairman) as he confronts politicians and celebrity restaurateurs, who exhibit little regard for the damage they are doing to the oceans.
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Love O&B x