Oceans Initiative

Oceans Initiative was established in 2007 by Rob Williams and Erin Ashe, two marine biologists based in British Columbia, Canada. It works to protect marine mammals and other endangered wildlife by translating science to effective policy and management.

Bycatch – the accidental death or injury of animals due to fishing – is estimated to kill 650,000 dolphins, porpoises and other marine mammals each year, affecting at least three in four species. Despite their popularity, marine mammals remain understudied across much of the world, hindering efforts to identify and conserve the most threatened populations. Lack of data is a key issue in understanding the impact of by-catch and other human activities on marine mammals. Without knowing how many animals there are in a given area, combined with poor records of number of animals killed as by-catch, it is impossible to judge the effect of this on a population.

Oceans Initiative works to develop tools and methodologies to increase our understanding of marine mammal populations and our effect on them. For example, it has developed, with support from Synchronicity Earth, an animal counting toolkit, which allows the collection of abundance data for marine mammals rapidly and cost-effectively. Now designed, and field tested in Vancouver and Indonesia, Oceans Initiative have launched the toolkit through an open-access paper detailing the methodology. This product will work to improve capacity and knowledge and will allow much more effective regulation of by-catch in developing countries. Read more about the animal counting toolkit here.

Synchronicity Earth has supported Oceans Initiative since 2013 in its development of tools to improve marine mammal protection.

At A Glance