It’s Your Ocean — Choose the Solution

By Miguel Jorge

Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit countless fishing communities around the world and in almost every case it’s been a situation where there is overfishing that leads to economic hardship. Too many fishermen catching too few fish and not enough money in the fisherman’s pocket.

But there have been those bright spots – those cases like the lobster fishermen of Sian Ka’an, Mexico, who are making more money by catching less fish once they adopted exclusive fishing rights combined with no-fishing zones. When we sat down to talk, these fishermen were full of pride and hope for the future. They told amazing stories about the recovery of the lobster stocks and how they turned the corner to sustainable fishing. Most of all, they had a great desire to share their success with other fishing communities.

Solutions and fishing communities like those in Sian-Ka’an are out there. Now the public has an opportunity to help spread the word to encourage the adoption of these and even more solutions in community fisheries around the world.

Photo courtesy of Rare

Make a Difference

Starting today, YOU are invited to visit Solution Search to vote for the most innovative solution to help community fisheries become more sustainable. The winner of the Solution Search contest will receive a grand prize of $20,000 and a video on National Geographic’s The Ocean website; two runners-up will each receive U.S.$5,000.

In its first ever Solution Search, Rare has partnered with National Geographic to turn the tide for fisheries. Coastal fishing communities were recently asked to submit successes in coastal fisheries management to the Solution Search contest. Now that the judges have whittled the list of over 100 entries down to the top ten finalists, Rare and National Geographic are turning to YOU to help choose the top three!

From locally-managed sacred areas in Senegal; bottom-up solutions in central Chile; a Community Supported Fishery (CSF) in Canada and more, you’ll choose from some of the most creative methods that local fishing communities have implemented to restore and rejuvenate their local economies. Each of the prizes will have a significant impact not only on the winning organization, but also the livelihoods of the communities involved.

Each and every day, destructive fishing practices damage our ocean – depleting fish populations, destroying habitats and polluting the water. The Solution Search finalists each play a role in addressing one or more of these issues, and show that coastal communities are taking a stand against environmental abuses that have (directly or indirectly) impacted their members.

Visit to cast your vote. The deadline for voting is December 24, 2011, and the winner will be announced in early January 2012.

We encourage you to share this contest with your friends! Follow @Solution_Search on Twitter, share on Facebook and visit the Solution Search website for updates.

For more information on why supporting sustainable fishing practices is important, please visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website or the NOAA Office of Sustainable Fisheries page.

Miguel Angel Jorge is the Director of the National Geographic Society’s Ocean Initiative, which strives to restore the ocean’s health and productivity. He joined NGS in February of 2010. Previously Miguel worked as Director of WWF-International’s Marine Program, where he oversaw the their global strategies on fisheries and seafood, shipping and high-seas conservation policy. Before that Miguel worked extensively in Latin America and the Caribbean on marine, freshwater conservation and large-scale conservation planning processes, in the Gulf of California, Galapagos and Mesoamerican Reef.  In his early career, Miguel worked in a wide array of areas, from aquaculture to refugee camp conflict mediator, to delegate at UN meetings.  A native of Cuba, he has also lived in the US, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Switzerland. Miguel has a Masters in Marine Policy and a Bachelor’s in Aquatic Biology.

Changing Planet


Meet the Author
More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn