Oceana's Summer Newsletter - Oceana USA
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August 31, 2009

Oceana’s Summer Newsletter

The summer issue of the Oceana newsletter is now available online for your reading pleasure.This season’s newsletter features articles about Oceana’s newest venture in Belize, a Q&A conversation between actor and Oceana board member Ted Danson and “The End of the Line” author Charles Clover, as well as a look at Oceana’s clean ocean energy campaign. And as usual, you can read the latest about our victories and events. Here’s an excerpt from the Clover/Danson conversation:Oceana board member Ted Danson provides the voiceover for the new film “The End of Line,” based on journalist Charles Clover’s book exposing the overfishing crisis facing the oceans. Despite their mutual interest in ocean conservation, the Brit and the Californian had never met – until Oceana arranged a transcontinental phone call in June just after the U.S. premiere of the film.Ted Danson: I was so impressed with the film. I thought it turned out really well, and it is astounding how well it fits with Oceana’s agenda. How long ago did you first literally decide to pick up pen and paper and start this journey?Charles Clover: I tried to sell the idea of a book on the collapse of world fisheries in 1996. But I was unable to place it with publishers for the kind of advance that meant I could write it. They said, “Oh, what an interesting subject, nobody’s done that, have they? No. We don’t think it’s very commercial. Nice book but we don’t think it’s worth our while to pay for it.” And I said, “Thanks very much but no thanks.” And waited until about 2003 until somebody hunted me down, by which time it had all changed. So that’s how it really happened.By the mid ‘90s, we were all beginning at last to understand what was happening, what had happened to the northern cod. It wasn’t really reported properly at the time. Some of these really important things never get reported in the papers and you know, ’96 was I think, just before a general election here and the government had really let go of the reins and there was the most rampant overfishing, illegal fishing, black cod, black everything, black fish landings, in the U.K. and I did a huge scoop on that. But I had been following fishing for a long time before that. I could see things were pretty bad.TD People ask me this all the time: Do you remember the person, the moment, the little bit of knowledge, that first piqued your interest to get you involved?CC Yes, I do! I walked into the wrong press conference in The Hague in 1990, when I had been highly skeptical as a reporter of all the reportingabout the pollution in the sea. It was in Dutch, which didn’t help, and I remember the slides on the screen.It was sufficiently comprehensible for me to realize this was really interesting. I think there must have been a graph up on the screen or something, a slide of trawling, and it was the first time that I’d ever seen the description of what a beam trawler does to the bed of the ocean.How did you get involved in this thing?TD For me, it was probably moving into a neighborhood in Santa Monica, California that was involved with a local fight to keep Occidental Petroleum from digging oil wells right down the coast, on the beach, into the bay. I met a man named Robert Sulnick, who was an environmental lawyer, and we were successful – and we thought, how can we continue to defend the oceans?It was very naive and slightly presumptuous, and Cheers was paying a lot of money so I could afford to hire him. American Oceans Campaign is what we named the fledging organization. It started off as basically a no-oil organization, but then we worked on coastal pollution as well, and we would go back and forth to Washington.When you see something is based on ignorance, when you see what’s happening to the ocean and you see that it doesn’t have to be that way – that if we were good stewards, if we were good businessmen, if we did the common sense thing, this wouldn’t have to happen, and when you realize that your children won’t necessarily get to have the right to go fish and eat fish and enjoy the ocean like we all did for centuries, that really irritates me.CC That’s a very good way of putting it. The thing I suppose that got me interested in it was just that, partly it was journalistic hunger for a story I knew must be true from my own experience because I’m a fisherman.And I watched all the freshwater fish get in to trouble, and I knew that the migratory fish that I was also catching like salmon and sea trout were in trouble. I knew that part of the story was in the sea, so I couldn’t believe that all the rest of the other species weren’t in trouble, too. And people said, “Oh no, they’re all being nicely managed by the scientists.” I suppose it is part of my nature not to believe that.