Brain Yurasits, Director of Development at Terramar Project tells us about his experiences fishing and surfing and how Steve Irwin inspired him to become a conservationist.
In this weeks edition of Under The Spotlight we speak with the Director of Development at the Terramar Project, Brian Yurasits. Brian has conducted research on marine protected areas and worked with the Global FinPrint Project helping survey sharks and rays of the world's tropical reefs. Brian has been a fisheries observer with NOAA, and was onboard commercial fishing vessels where he collected data on fisheries operations in the Northeast US. Brian hopes that his work will help turn the spot light onto the importance and value of the ocean and help keep it in a healthy state, so that future generations can experience the myriad of benefits the ocean has to offer.
Lets see what else Brian had to say as he went, under the spotlight...🔦
For me it was always fishing and surfing. I was taught how to fish from a young age, and was lucky enough to be able to spend as much time as possible in and around the water since then. I've always been a fish at heart. Fishing at a young age taught me to love the natural world around us and to appreciate all forms of life and the delicate balance that holds it all in place. You learn about the tides, the seasons, life, and death. It all comes full circle. Surfing introduced me to the raw power of the sea - and to the idea that we people are so small in this world. Surfing puts you into a very interesting place, where for a brief moment in time untamed power becomes a beautiful ecstacy. Anyone who surfs has a hard time explaining the feeling of riding a wave because it's simply indescribable. It leaves you wanting nothing more than to get back out into the ocean, and will lead you to spend your whole life chasing that inner peace.
It would be to close the High Seas, which make up essentially half of our planet, to commercial fishing. From my experience the single greatest force acting on our oceans (besides climate change) is commercial fishing. And illegal fishing on the high seas is one of the most serious problems that not only leaves our world's oceans decimated, but steals from the livelihoods of smaller, more sustainable fisheries. Not to mention the slavery and other social injustices associated with illegal fishing in International waters. If the world were to work together to ban fishing on the high seas, nearly every single nation would reap major benefits.
Money speaks louder than words, and the problem is that people around the world value the present more than the future when it comes to ocean health. We need to open the world's mind up to the idea that the future isn't so far around the bend anymore. And that the consequences of our actions are starting to knock harder on the door. And this can be accomplished by breaking down the walls of apathy - and SHOWING the world what is really happening to our oceans. Cheap fuel leads to ocean acidification and the decline of coral reefs. Cheap seafood means whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and sharks will slowly dwindle into oblivion. And nobody can deny that natural disasters, droughts, flooding, and wildfires are becoming an unfortunate norm.
I was working on a commercial fishing boat about 100 miles off of New York City. My job was to record data on the fish - and bycatch (non-target species) of the fishing vessel. It was around 3am on the calmest night of the trip. The water was like a lake, and you could see down for hundreds of feet because it was such a clear blue. The crew had already finished sorting out the haul's catch, and I was the only one left on deck still collecting my data. I was tossing some of the discarded fish overboard, when I noticed a massive white figure circling the boat in the depths. At first I thought to myself 'is this some type of huge shark?' But as the animal got closer to the surface, it began to take shape. It was almost like a dream, we were so far out in the vastness of the sea, yet underneath us was still an ocean teeming with life. The white animal got bigger and bigger until it was right beneath me! And then, in slow motion, it popped its head up right next me on the side if the boat! It was a huge Risso's Dolphin, and I can swear that for a moment we locked eyes and understood each other.
This one might sound odd because he wasn't a marine scientist, but it's Steve Irwin. He represents more the raw enthusiasm that you need to save the world. His work inspired me to become passionate about conservation, and I still look up to the way that he was able to captivate everyday people around the world to care about the natural world. I hope to someday be able to inspire young people to care about the ocean with the same raw enthusiasm for what I do. Sometimes, all that the world needs is someone who can spark the flame for change.
If you would like to get in contact with Brian or find out about the amazing work the Terramar Project carries out then check out the links below;
Linkedin: Brian Yurasits
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