Protecting the oceans
Protect Blue turns the traditional conference format on its head. There is not a single PowerPoint presentation in sight; experts give talks while involved in such activities as sailing, paddleboarding and hiking.
Organiser Linzi Hawkin will host a pre-conference social, Meet Blue, on the island next Friday, hoping to get residents to sign up for the September event.
Fundraising, community building, brand strategy, storytelling and ways of measuring impact are among the skills required.
“We are looking for anyone who is working in ocean advocacy to come and participate in Protect Blue,” said the Jersey, Channel Islands, resident who has dedicated her career to the field.
“They do not necessarily have to be working in it full time, they may be working part time or looking to move into that space.”
Bermudian Weldon Wade became involved in last year’s conference through his conservation organisation, Guardians of the Reef, which encourages divers to explore and protect the ocean through clean-ups and lionfish culls.
“We met Weldon last year when we first ran Protect Blue in Bermuda with the help of ocean advocates Plastic Tides,” Ms Hawkin said.
“Weldon does incredible work within the dive industry and is an integral part of the team for this year’s Bermuda event. It would be lovely to welcome more Bermudians into the community.
“There is no one solution for our oceans. We need creatives, scientists, film-makers — a diverse range of people.
“We are all becoming more aware of the threat our oceans face and the related threats to human health. The clock is ticking in terms of getting the problems solved.”
Meet Blue events are also planned for New York, San Francisco and London next Friday to recruit ocean advocates from those cities to join the conference here in September.
The ultimate goal is to “provide the support, practical tools and community to ensure ocean advocates reach their full potential”.
Ms Hawkin, an activist and entrepreneur, founded SUP Kids in 2015. The stand-up paddleboard programme teaches environmental education and water safety in 40 schools worldwide.
She held her first ocean conference two years later. Protect Blue started as a limited company with a non-profit arm that raises funds for ocean advocacy projects. The United Nation’s sustainable development goals are its guide.
Ms Hawkin, 39, is also working with the United Nations’ technology and innovation labs on an environmental curriculum that combines design thinking, sustainability and experiential education.
“My career has been very ocean-related and it’s through this connection that makes it so important for me to protect it,” she said.
“I spent a good chunk of time teaching surfing in Jersey and I’ve been working in ocean conservation for six years. My work is in education but I also work with businesses to help them to become more purpose-driven and sustainable.”
Protect Blue participants this year include Christian Troy, the executive director of the US-based clean water aid organisation Waves for Water and Michael Stewart, a founder of Sustainable Surf.
The US charity “transforms surf culture into a powerful force for protecting the ocean playground”.
Bermuda was the perfect place to host the conference said Ms Hawkin, who “had an intrinsic connection to the sea” throughout her Jersey childhood.
“I think on an island there is an opportunity to have a real impact and to be a test space in terms of doing conservation work and dealing with the ecological issues we face. Islands can be great places to make change and have an impact quickly.”
• Meet Blue takes place on May 31 from 6pm to 9pm at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute. Admission is free but reservations can be made on Facebook. Look on Protect Blue’s events page. Protect Blue will be based out of Prince Albert Terrace in Dockyard from September 19 to 22. Visit www.protect.blue
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