Meet 3 Women Working on the Frontline of Ocean Conservation

by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer

The earliest iteration of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was founded in 1977 to “defend, conserve and protect our ocean.” Meet three women, featured by Vogue, who are carrying out the organization’s mission:

  • Eva Hidalgo: 31-year-old Spanish scientist who was part of the team that possibly identified a new species of beaked whale last year. She’s concerned about overfishing and in support of creating — and monitoring —marine protected areas.
  • Mar Casariego: 28-year-old captain from the Spanish coast who uses her legal background to work with local law enforcement to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. 
  • Lamya Essemlali: 42-year-old president of Sea Shepherd France (which she co-founded) and co-director of Sea Shepherd Global has worked on a campaign to prevent dolphins from getting caught by fishing gear in the Bay of Biscay and against the killing of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands. 

Why This Matters: Women like Hidalgo, Casariego, and Essemlali are actively working to regenerate the ocean, which has already absorbed harmful human impact from global heating to plastic pollution. With a focus on overfishing and habitat destruction, they’re tackling issues of ecosystem health that the climate crisis is making worse. “We need to give marine ecosystems a chance to recover to be able to survive the many other threats that they also face,” Hidalgo said in a Q&A with Vogue.

Protecting More of the Ocean: This week, the U.S. joined the U.K., Chile, Costa Rica, and France in an international effort to protect more of the ocean to mitigate climate change. The  International Partnership on Marine Protected Areas, Biodiversity and Climate Change will focus on creating highly protected areas — not just boundaries set out on maps, but parts of the ocean where oil drilling, commercial fishing, and other extractive activities aren’t allowed. In protected areas, whole interconnected ecosystems of marine life are able to thrive without human threats. In fact, protected areas often increase the availability of fish in areas around its boundaries, called the spillover effect.

 

It’s imperative that we act upon direct threats such as unregulated fishing and overfishing by global industrial operations, and support the creation and monitoring of marine-protected areas,” Hidalgo told Vogue

 

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