Pristine Seas: “We want to put ourselves out of business – as fast as we can”

When I initially read the tagline for Pristine Seas (different from the quote in the title), I believed the ideology behind the project was erroneous. I realized my mistake, however, after thinking about it for a bit. The short description for the project reads, “Pristine Seas is an exploration, research, and media project to find, survey, and help protect the last wild places in the ocean. These pristine places are unknown by all but long-distance fishing fleets, which have started to encroach on them. It is essential that we let the world know that these places exist, that they are threatened, and that they deserve to be protected.” My thinking was that by sharing these places with the world, they would become tainted – subject to abuse that they had not previously faced. But, the world is getting smaller, and the threat is looming. By preemptively exposing these places to the public, National Geographic is hoping to garner support and love for these areas before serious encroachment.

Nat Geo has also rounded up some glamorous sponsors: Davidoff, luxury tobacco goods; and Blancpain, luxury watchmakers. I do believe that, behind substance, advertising is an important way to promote an idea or project and these sponsors are definitely contributing significantly to this vital project.

Trip leader Enric Sala, an eminent marine ecologist, remarked, “The unprotected ocean is like a checking account where everybody withdraws but nobody makes a deposit; marine reserves are savings accounts. What he is describing is tragedy of the commons, a theory that states that individuals sharing a common space will act only with self-interest. What results is that each individual uses too much, despite that being again the interests of the group. This happens because looking what is best long-term is difficult to do in a shared setting because each is worried someone else will take their share. Unfortunately, this theory does apply well to our planet’s oceans, in terms of both pollution and fishing.

Pristine Seas has visited 10 locations around the world and conducted research to help prevent tragedy of the commons from reaching the corners of the ocean that remain unspoiled. Blogs for each detail fascinating and strikingly beautiful discoveries, as well as conservation efforts and progress. Check them out here.

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