Netflix released a trailer for a new marine conservation documentary called Mission Blue. I am excited to see it. Sylvia Earle seems like a unique woman with an impressive history. At the end of the trailer they reveal the ultimate mission of Mission Blue. “To protect the ocean in the same way that we now protect the land.” Earle says, “I wish for a global network of marine protected areas to save and restore the ocean.”
This mission brings up some questions:
(1) Will a land-based model of conservation fully work for the fluid environment of the sea? Can MPAs help conserve fish, marine mammal, and shark populations that move long distances and easily cross boundaries?
(2) The land model of conservation through protected areas has a troubled history of dispossession of Indigenous groups from their land, of disenfranchisement of locals from important livelihood activities, and of top-down implementation and management. How can we make sure that the ocean model doesn’t replicate those troubling patterns?
We’ll have to see if the documentary addresses any of these questions when it comes out August 15th.