If we hope to preserve a healthy planet for our grandchildren and beyond, our oceans (Big Blue) will be the key. With 71 percent of Earth covered by water, this should be obvious to all. And right now, we have a golden opportunity to further protect our oceans while simultaneously putting the screws to China.
Though Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine is on top of everyone's mind at present, China remains the far greater geopolitical risk to the global community, as well as to our oceans.
The Mediterranean has long been known as the 'most overfished sea' in the world. Once a great provider of food and sustenance to the known ancient world, the Med is now largely dead. The risk of this happening to our oceans is now alarmingly real.
Though the vastness of our oceans makes overfishing them seem impossible, it is not. And though sea-life seems infinite, it is not.
Present day commercial fishing fleets are rapidly depleting our oceans. China is by far the major culprit. China's fishing fleets are steadily proliferating and becoming increasingly adept at hunting down fish all around the world. Likewise, the majority of the plastic inundating our oceans is coming from these same Chinese commercial fishing fleets circling the globe.
As such, action needs to be taken to protect the future of our oceans and sea-life. This can be done, and it may not be as difficult as it first appears.
By setting aside and protecting just 18 percent of our high-seas oceans from commercial fishing and dumping, the oceans (and sea-life) will have the necessary space and time to continuously regenerate. As fish schools migrate out of the protected zone and become fair prey, new schools will continuously be spawning, forming, and migrating. As such, the critical oceanic life-cycle will be protected and continue.
Establishing this protection zone is essential to preserving our oceans as a healthy and reliable food source for millenia to come. This is in the self-interest of everyone. The alternative is to allow the Chinese to continue strip-mining the oceans of sea-life, which will ultimately result in a bleak, famine-dominated future for all.
In order to make this 18 percent protection zone a reality, we need to accept and act upon 10 hard truths:
1. Our planet is populated by a vast array of entities with competing self-interests: 8 billion people, 195 nations, endless businesses and corporations, and zillions of life forms from the smallest insects to the largest mammals. Bottom line, none of this multitude of life is going to voluntarily walk-away en masse from their self-interests based on the kindness of their hearts, or what you may think is the right thing for them to do. So stop expecting such.
2. Educating humanity about the importance of protecting our oceans and environment is admirable and important. However, it alone won't spur consequential action.
3. There is no global "we" or “us”. So stop thinking in these terms. Humanity is not a monolith, nor is it a bee kingdom with orders coming down from the queen-on-high to the rest of us. As such, our focus must instead be on identifying the entity with the actual muscle to establish this oceanic protection zone; followed by finding the self-interest that would prompt this entity to want to establish this protection zone; followed by a campaign of persuasion to get this entity to actually do it.
4. The world 2,000 years ago was largely a Roman World. Rome was the key to anything of consequence happening or changing, such as Rome's adoption of Christianity in 325 A.D. Similarly, the world today is largely an American World. If we want something major to change, we will need America's muscle to drive it. Some may resent this, but it is the reality we face.
5. America is an open society and can be persuaded to make major changes, but only if it sees it as critically important to its self-interests.
6. Having the 'mob' on your side in America is essential, because mob opinion is largely what drives America's political leadership. Tesla's successful mass production of electric cars (with demand for EVs getting stronger by the day) is a positive indicator that the mob is indeed embracing environmental progress. Supporting an oceanic protection zone may be a natural next step.
7. Without enforcement, any international UN ocean treaty is feel-good and meaningless. And there is only one nation that can bring real enforcement on the high seas – America.
8. China is an environmental wrecking-ball and not to be trusted. However, it is imperative that we always distinguish between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the actual Chinese people. Whether intentional (or by accident and intentionally covered up), the CCP is responsible for unleashing Covid-19 on the world, resulting in over 525 million undeserved illnesses and 6.28 million deaths of innocent persons. The rising global resentment towards China is palpable.
9. America's most vexing concern today is the same CCP China. As such, if America sees that protecting the oceans will simultaneously help it put the screws to China, we may have found the elusive self-interest that spurs America to action. Moreover, China's commercial fishing fleets are full of CCP spies shadowing the U.S. Navy and everyone else. An oceanic protection zone would empower America to legally block these Chinese spy fleets from close to a fifth of the world's oceans. This is meaningful.
Note that China's so-called "fishing fleets" are filled with intelligence operators who are actively collecting data on all the world's navies, but especially the U.S. Navy and its personnel. These spy fleets can be found stalking all around the world, and especially off of America's west coast during the upcoming biennial RIMPAC exercises.
10. America at its core believes itself to be the global good guy, a la Superman or Flash Gordon. America's victorious role in World War I, World War II, the Cold War, aid to Indonesia tsunami victims, and so on, frames this belief. In the case of protecting our oceans, America has the opportunity to again play the hero, and this time with the added bonus of significantly curtailing China's oceanic sphere of operations and global ambitions. And in exchange for providing the enforcement, America will also have a large say about what specific areas will be included in the protection zone. Quite a win-win-win from America's perspective.
With these 10 hard truths in mind, it is important to play up and encourage America's better angels to action. But it is not always a straight line getting it to happen, as Winston Churchill observed, "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they've tried everything else."
“Protecting Big Blue" as our message, coupled with a resonating protective-art-shield image, could help transcend the global status quo and spur America to action.
If America buys into the concept, the policy becomes straightforward. America spearheads the passage of a United Nations treaty establishing a UN Big Blue Oceanic Protection Zone over 18 percent of the ocean's high-seas against commercial fishing and dumping. (This zone can be expanded later as deemed necessary.)
By this treaty, the navies of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, India, Australia, and New Zealand will be charged with enforcement. These seven democratic nations will also be empowered to issue Privateer Commissions to vessels (under their flags) to enforce the Big Blue Protection Zone. (Likewise, nations being preyed upon by outside commercial fishing fleets should consider hiring these commissioned privateers to enforce their 200-mile ocean jurisdictions.)
Also by treaty, these seven nations will be empowered to deploy satellites and drones to monitor, photograph, and GPS track all commercial fishing ships that are violating the Big Blue Protection Zone. This information will be promptly transmitted to the nearest navy ships and / or armed commissioned privateers with authorization to interdict.
The commissioned privateers will be essential to policing such vast areas of the high seas. The privateers will be awarded cash bounties for each interdiction, as well as be entitled to seize the violating commercial fishing ships and their cargos as prizes. The captured violating ship crews will be photographed, fingerprinted, DNA sampled, and released at the nearest port. Second violations will bring automatic jail time at a contracted prison in the Philippines.
Such a profit motive on the high seas has proven to be a successful strategy of deterrence since the days of Sir Francis Drake. Similarly, private contracted military personnel have been successfully hired and deployed to the Middle East for decades.
In essence, this privateer effort will launch a new global industry to police the protection zone. And the more effective they are at policing, the quicker they will work their way out of a job.
The commercial fishing fleets will recognize the significant downside and quickly begin to steer clear.
Big Blue will thrive – and so too will humanity.