I may have been shivering with cold, but my heart was leaping with excitement … I was face to face with the Patagonian seahorse, Hippocampus patagonicus, and it was magical. The species was only described in 2004 and is assessed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
Trawling catches pretty much all fish and invertebrates, even while wrecking habitats. It is the single biggest threat to seahorses, but they are hardly alone in that. Trawling is a devastatingly bad way to fish.
In 2000, I was given one of the best awards in marine conservation, a Pew Fellowship. It came with generous funding, which we applied towards work on non-food fisheries and towards obtaining the first global export controls on marine fishes (for seahorses) under CITES. It also came with the most wonderful gift of a meeting each year. But not your ordinary meeting…
I was excited to be the opening keynote speaker at the Student Conference on Conservation Science in Bengaluru/Bangalore. Hundreds of aspiring conservationists from South Asia and a few from farther afield gather each year to share professional hopes and nurture ambitious dreams.
Today we had a chat with hope. We were at a dry and somewhat desolate landing beach up the coast from Tuticorin when along came a conservation hero.
I’m not sure whether to be enthralled or appalled by the trawl fisheries of southern India. Probably both.