Those words are part of a big story, but they’re also the result of a project, and a much larger effort to focus attention on international waters.
They are the headlines from the Ocean Stories grants program launched in June by the Internews Earth Journalism Network (EJN), timed to coincide with the release of the Global Ocean Commission’s report “From Recovery to Decline: A Rescue Package for the Ocean.” The report outlined proposals aimed at restoring the ocean’s health by addressing many of its key stressors including overfishing, plastics pollution, damage to important habitats, climate change and ocean acidification.
“On the surface, coral bleaching may be seen as corals turning white, losing their distinct color and eventually dying, turning into ghostly white skeletal structures underwater. But the coral losing colors is only a symptom of bigger issues and threats faced by oceans and marine life,” wrote Philippines’ reporter Anna Valermo, before describing how climate change is exacerbating stresses on ecosystems already burdened by overfishing and pollution issues. This is a common theme for ocean articles that delve under the surface into issues that many readers are unfamiliar with.
Stories supported by the grants program were published in the Philippines, China, Russia, Pakistan, and Lebanon but focused on international waters, also known as the high seas. This area covers more than 45 percent of the Earth’s surface, sits outside of national jurisdictions, and is facing over-exploitation as technology enables better access to its resources while international management frameworks are slow to change.
Additional stories were spurred by distribution of information through the Earth Journalism Network’s online listserv, EJNet, which connects nearly 1,300 journalists around the world. A full list of stories produced is available on the EJN website.