AMA #8 — FishAct
This week on our video AMA, we’re extremely excited to welcome scientific diver, marine biologist and Director of the charity FishAct, Valeska Diemel. Valeska previously worked for Greenpeace, and Seashepherd Germany, before joining FishAct in 2015, and becoming the organisation’s Director in 2016. FishAct are one of SEA’s eight partner organisations, along with Coral Reef Alliance, Oceanic Preservation Society, 5 Gyres, Sea Shepherd, PADI Aware Foundation, Gili Eco Trust and Greenwave.
Initially an organisation formed to address the issues of marine animals in captivity, FishAct turned its attention to the urgent issue of overfishing in 2011 — this has remained the focus of the organisation ever since. FishAct have published numerous books and reports spotlighting specific, emerging issues (see “Deserted Ocean” in 2017, “The Illegal Fishing and Organized Crime Nexus” in 2014), and they’ve made several acclaimed films highlighting the problems at hand, including “FishAct — Fighting illegal fishing” (2019) and “Losing Nemo” (2013).
FishAct work on the frontline — they investigate reports of illegal fishing, train citizen inspectors to document illegal and harmful fishing practices, and apply pressure to governments and industry to comply with legislation, and to legislate against damaging fishing practices.
So, as well as finding out more about FishAct, about Valeska, and about the great work they’re doing — this week’s AMA will be about overfishing, and industrial fishing. What do we mean by overfishing and illegal fishing?
When we talk about overfishing, we’re generally talking about using industrialised processes like supertrawlers — boats over 100m long with nets up to a mile in length, capable of indescriminately pulling hundreds of tons of marine animals from the sea every day. When you fish using these methods, you deplete the ocean of fish. There aren’t enough fish left to recover a healthy population, and the species disappears. When one species disappears, it impacts the food chain, and eventually the whole ecosystem collapses. Supertrawlers also catch indescriminately — they might target one species, but their nets pull whatever gets in them from the ocean. Whales, dolphins, sharks, porpoises, rays — no species is safe.
Illegal fishing can come in a variety of shapes and sizes — FishAct have investigated the use of illegal driftnets, dynamite, and Fish Aggregating Devices (devices which attract fish to an area), as well as illegal modifications to legal fishing equipment, which slightly adapt it’s purpose. For example, Lobster fishing equipment can be adapted to catch cod in regions where cod fishing is illegal — these adaptations are against the law, and are responsible for further depleting already-diminished ecosystems.
We’ll be finding out more about all this stuff direct from Valeska, from 17:00 UTC this Wednesday (22nd September) on our Twitch channel. But right now, you can head over to our Twitter to ask your questions! It’s your chance to ask Valeska and the SEA team anything you want about FishAct, overfishing, illegal fishing, and the SEA project, so get involved! As ever, there are prizes for the best questions, extra bonus prizes for referrals, and at the end of the livestream our weekly SEA Quiz!
Our video AMA series has been pretty explosive so far — we’ve had some amazing guests, some really insightful questions and a lot of really enlightening discussions. We had Amit Banka from environmental social network WeNaturalists explaining the necessity of connection between people working with nature; we had Delphine Robbe from our partners Gili Eco Trust, talking about the history of the organisation, the challenges they face, and the wonders of biorock; we’ve had painter and marine biologist Miriam Staiger talking about her passion for the oceans and the causes she supports; not to mention several very revealing sessions with team behind SEA. And we’re just getting started!
For more info on the SEA AMA series, the referral rewards and other stuff, visit seatoken.org/ama
See you there!