Dr. Enric Sala is a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, who is actively engaged in ocean exploration and research. He is currently working to protect the last pristine marine ecosystems worldwide and helping to develop new business models for marine conservation. Here are some snippet from his speech – video to come soon!

‘We are taking fish out of the ocean faster than they can reproduce and we are starting with the top predators – the big fish on top of the food chain, including the sharks…In the last hundred years alone, we have killed 90 percent of the large fish in the ocean, including sharks…But this is just one more stat in this trajectory of degradation. The end step is this, is death, collapse of the ocean environment.’

‘This is what we learn from textbooks: you go to an environment like the African plains for example, and you expect to see hundreds of thousands of wildebeests and zebras and just a few hundred lions, right? We expected the same thing for coral reefs, to find lots of fish on the bottom of the food chain that eat algae, and then have a few top predators. But this, what we learn in textbooks, is a consequence of studying reefs that are degrading – because they are easy to access. Scientists go to the places that are easy to study, but also that are easy to fish…On a pristine reef, if you get all the fish of the reef and weigh them, the top predators like the sharks, they account for most of the biomass. So this would be like going to Africa, and seeing more than one lion for every wildebeest.’

‘In [a] pristine reef…not only are the fish there – the reefs are there, the reefs are thriving.’

‘[We] go to these remote places in the ocean, places that are still healthy…we make analyses, we produce films, and then with all of this…we try to convince the leaders of different countries to protect these places…these [newly created] reserves provide jobs and bring more revenue than fishing – forty times more [revenue] than fishing!’

‘If you kill a shark and sell it in the market for fins and meat, you’re going to get less than $200 per shark. If you keep that shark alive in the water – and we have studies from all around the world – on average over that shark’s lifetime it will bring in 2 million dollars [in tourism].’