Adventure | Plastic pollution | Essay
Reading time: 3 minutes
Text by Anne-Marie Asselin, Founder
Published December 2018
Discover the story of our founder, Anne-Marie, which reflects on several years of travel, research and studies. She gives us a glimpse of her life, all over the world, in order to protect what is most important to her, the oceans!
What hold tomorrow's seas?
If you read this document and end up here, it's probably because you have an interest in our planet. Thank you! Otherwise, it is by chance or by referencing. Stay here, you will certainly learn a few things!
As a young scientist, a diver and explorer, I have witnessed a multitude of extraordinary phenomena on our planet: from migratory movements of sharks of all kinds of species, to the coral hatching four days after the first full moon of August (super esoteric indeed!), to orcas swimming along side our sail boat on the Pacific coast of Ecuador... I have been spoiled I know!
I felt the cold wind, the warm breeze, I saw the horizon as far as the eye can see. I even developed a photographic passion to nuance all the shades of blue that the sea reflects, rather emeralds, rather pale blue, light, dark ... And this, before the age of thirty. I am a reflection of what you describe "the generation Y". In my jargon, millennials. So I have traveled a lot, I have no mortgage and I use the internet as my main means of communication; typical!
I was also a witness, very young, of less beautiful phenomena. The "modern era" travels I conducted confronted me very early, to my North American distorted reality. As Lavoisier, father of chemistry at the beginning of the 18th century, said: "Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed". I realized pretty soon, in my early twenties, that I had an important responsibility on the ugliness witnessed in several countries. You're going to tell me, "Another one who's going to talk about pollution!". But even if it is far from what you can see, pollution is real. For several decades now, wastes have accumulated thanks to the great ocean currents called ocean gyres. These currents can also bring back floating plastic items to the coast, one tide at a time. And I have contributed to the trash. From the moment I was born. And I had no idea I was contributing to such an ugly truth.
Nothing is lost.
I reiterate Lavoisier, the plastic is not lost! So I found myself in the middle of a gyre in the eastern Atlantic where I was surrounded by bottles, cartridges, utensils and various plastic dedicated to a "single use". There was also a lot of particles, I wondered if the intact wastes came from the coast. I did not understand what I saw. I could recognize almost all the garbage around me and their uses in my daily life, in a soup of particles. A shock…
There were also people, coastal people. These people did not seem to live like us. They did not seem to be responsible for generating this pollution. They seemed so happy with barely nothing. Yet these isolated peoples on the coasts, the small island states, in places that should yet be untouched, were rather buried under plastic wastes. Transported in a tide of containers and plastic particles brought by the currents on their banks.
Nothing is created.
I also saw fishing, overfishing, massive exploitation, the one that catches or destroys everything in its path. There was poaching, greedy tourism, corals screaming for help, mangroves disappearing more and more, seas too toxic to soak in your toe... The list is long. Just look, pay attention. Our environment is under tremendous pressure.
Everything is transformed.
I had the privilege of also witnessing human events that prove the strength of the union, as in Paris in December 2015, during the historic agreement signed by the United Nations to fight climate change. As a young ambassador for the oceans within UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, I had access to the negotiating pavilion where delegations and world leaders walked the corridors of COP21 to conclude this ambitious environmental agreement. But I have also been called by all "normal" people, mobilized by a historic political event, led by strength and belief that a healthy environment is a fundamental human right. What's more, a tide of people claiming that the environment should weigh a lot more in political weight. I saw hope.
All this reminds me constantly of the smallness of my existence and I can not remain without words. That is why I carry my voice, and help to our dear blue home, its animals, its plants, either living and non-living, to convey the importance of its protection. My experience can touch and raise awareness. It is in all this current chaos and this lack of real legal structure that the environment is a sector holding a lot of potential. Did you know that the Ocean is for the first time in an international convention since its official signing on April 22, 2016, on earth day ?
"Noting the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including the oceans, and the protection of biodiversity, recognized by some cultures as the Mother Earth, and noting the importance for some of the concept of "Climate Justice", in the fight against climate change, affirming the importance of education, training, awareness raising, public participation, public access to information and cooperation at all levels on the issues addressed in this Agreement, recognizing the importance of the participation of public authorities at all levels and of the various actors, in accordance with the respective national legislation of the Parties, in the fight against climate change Recognizing also that sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption and production, with developed countries leading the way, play an important role in both to cope with climate change. "
-Paris Agreement, United Nations, 2015
The cards are on the table; many people, groups, and multiple organizations come together in this movement. I am excited for tomorrow, this world filled with environmental, technological, innovative opportunities where the human is an integral part of its ecosystem! Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed. Well, here is the transformation! The world of tomorrow is very different from yesterday. It will be poorer in biodiversity, there will be many more humans on earth, but it will be respectful of others, it will be cleaner and above all more sustainable, and it will pay close attention to ecosystem integrity. This is why I want to take you to see all the potential that resides on our coastline from North to South America. It's time to turn the page, talk about opportunities, ingenuities and move forward by creating a positive wave of change.
Welcome aboard into a sea of change
Explorer, marine biologist, conservationist
Anne-Marie has a very developed scientific and creative spirit. Always with a perspective and a positive outlook on the world, she knows how to tell stories both in writing and photography to travel, to inspire.
Follow her in her adventures.