In this series of articles, we’ll profile conservation organizations focused on ocean protection. Today we’re chatting with the scientific director of the French NGO BLOOM.

In this series of articles, we’ll profile conservation organizations focused on ocean protection. Today we’re chatting with Frederic Le Manach, the scientific director of the French NGO BLOOM.

What do you do?

BLOOM is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the ocean by promoting responsible and sustainable fishing practices. We do so by running awareness campaigns, education actions and scientific research. We aim to reach the general public but also politicians, decision makers, and economic actors.

How and why did it all start?

Claire Nouvian created BLOOM in 2005 after she realized that human activities, such as deep-sea bottom trawling, threaten the deep ocean’s ecosystems. In 2006, she published “The Deep” and, in 2007, she became the curator of the eponymous exhibition at the Museum of Natural History in Paris. She created both the book and the exhibition to increase the general public’s awareness.

How many people are involved and what are their roles?

There are four employees, Claire Nouvian, and one intern. The strength of BLOOM resides in its expertise and high-quality scientific research. It is also a small and very flexible organization, so we are very efficient. We do not have a big network of volunteers, although people can sometimes help us during events like conferences and festivals.

What are the main areas of focus?

Our most popular research topic was the campaign led by BLOOM on deep-sea bottom trawling. The aim of this campaign was to ban any bottom trawling below 2,000 feet (600 m) in the Northeast Atlantic. We achieved this on June 30, 2016 after eight years of efforts, with some reasonable trade-offs, such as a restricted area and a ban below 2,600 feet (800 m) instead.

The campaign became really popular in 2013 after Nouvian’s TED Talk was used as the basis for a comic strip published by Penelope Bagieu. The petition that was linked to it gathered almost 900,000 signatures, which led to the great result we know. Of course, fighting against industrial fishing lobbies and industry leaders was really difficult. But this campaign showed us how the general public can have a huge impact on decision making.

BLOOM also works on other issues such as shark finning and the use of shark products, as well as fishing subsidies and the allocation of public money.

How can people help?

The best way to help us is to communicate about our actions. We are active on Facebook and Twitter. We rely on individual donations quite heavily, as around 90 percent of our budget is comes from the general public. This is of course risky, but it is also a strength. We are totally independent and free to work on topics that matter to us but that the general public may not know about.

People can also help by modifying their habits. Any of us can choose to buy differently, for example by using our infographics on the various fishing methods. Choose how you buy fish accordingly.

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