Sealives Needs – A Co-Founder & Chief Association Officer

Posted by Jason Murphy. First Published 12/02/2018 


The Sealives Initiative is Vancouver, Canada based non-profit using photography and journalism to connect audiences with individuals who impact, are impacted by or otherwise face issues of ocean conservation in their daily lives.

Role

The role of Chief Association Officer will be to harness the content created by the initiative to build strong donor, partner and membership relationships.

Responsibilities

  • Create and execute the Initiative's donor acquisition plan.
  • Create and execute the Initiative partnership program seeking sponsorship for all its activities.
  • Create and execute the Initive's membership structure for subscribing members. 
  • Participate in the process of translating the Initiative's journalistic content into compelling educational campaigns and public events.

Experience

Extensive experience in building successful donor and/or partnership programs essential. Skill and a long-term comtment to building compleiing online communication assets important. Experience or an interest in crowd-funding a bonus.

The successful candidate will join the Initiative for a trial period with the promise of becoming a founder and board director if everything goes well.

Sealives is not currently funded – that will require donors, members, and over the long haul, subscribing members.

This is the Sealives Initiative's "founder moment" – the point at which a small group of people come together to do something special. The opportunity here is to get in on the ground floor of a project dedicated to the highest possible quality of content and sense of purpose to make a positive impact in the world, and to take full ownership of this part of this vital part of the operation.

A commitment to the not-for-profit sector is essential for this role. It is also important for whoever works on this project to have a progressive solutions-orientated outlook to conservation issues – Sealives will be optimistic, solutions seeking and open to good ideas wherever we find them, and will conform to journalistic standards of even-handedness when it comes to portraying its participants regardless of the part they play in the global story of ocean health.

If you can see yourself in this role or have questions please email jason@sealives.org with your LinkedIn link.

Sealives Needs – A Co-Founder & Chief Awareness Officer

Posted by Jason Murphy. First Published 28/01/2018 


The Sealives Initiative is Vancouver, Canada based non-profit using photography and journalism to connect audiences with individuals who impact, are impacted by or otherwise face issues of ocean conservation in their daily lives.

Role

The role of Chief Awareness Officer will be to harness the content created by the initiative to build an audience for the project and to construct and manage the funnel for nurturing social followers and website visitors into enthusiastic subscribing members.

Responsibilities

  • Create and execute the audience growth and membership acquisition strategy for the Sealives Initiative.
  • Translate the Initiative's journalistic and educational content into compelling social media campaigns.
  • Ensure that the Initiative is making most effective use of all available media channels all the time.

Experience

Extensive experience in building successful social media and multiple component online marketing campaigns for SaaS businesses or subscription driven online publications a requirement.

The successful candidate will join the Initiative for a trial period with the promise of becoming a founder and board director if everything goes well.

Sealives is not currently funded. Building an audience will be a key part of making that happen, hence the need for this role to be filled without delay.

Every organization has its "founder moment" – the point at which a small group of people come together to do something special. The opportunity here is to get in on the ground floor of a project dedicated to the highest possible quality of content and sense of purpose to make a positive impact in the world, and to take full ownership of this part of this vital part of the operation.

A commitment to the not-for-profit sector is essential for this role. It is also important for whoever works on this project to have a progressive solutions-orientated outlook to conservation issues – Sealives will be optimistic, solutions seeking and open to good ideas wherever we find them, and will conform to journalistic standards of even-handedness when it comes to portraying its participants regardless of the part they play in the global story of ocean health.

The role would suit a currently successful online marketer with a love of the ocean and a desire to take a risk on something truly worthwhile, or a super-talented, super-driven up senior marketer looking to make an audacious career move.

If you are interested or have questions please email jason@sealives.org with your LinkedIn link.

Microcosm – First Look

Link to photo gallery

By Jason Murphy. First Published 30/12/2017 

 

Here is a selection of the first few pictures of the assignment that I have given the working title “Microcosm” – the mission to show how the larger issues of marine conservation are all happening right here on my own doorstep in the coastal waters of mainland BC and Eastern Vancouver Island.

That working title is going to change by the way. It came from an idea about Echo Bay, the world’s smallest marine park, but in order to do justice to the issues I’ll need to take in a bigger area – a landscape of coastal waterways and marine parks that include the world’s oldest whale sanctuary and is as complex as any other marine / socio-economic ecosystem out there.

As far as the results themselves go, I’m happy. Every day I see how I can improve, but by and large I’m getting the kind of photographs I have been hoping for.

This first cut is to give you an idea of what to expect going forwards and includes pictures of Steve Beans, who tells me he is the last independent salmon boat owner in Alert Bay, and Jared Towers, local scientist and conservationist with his father Dave, pioneer of the local whale watching industry.

Among many other things Jared is Executive Director of the North Island Marine Mammal Stewardship Association (NIMMSA) and a Director of the Marine Education and Research Society based here in Alert Bay.

As I gather more pictures, this blog will become attached to a web gallery of images that will be the true centrepiece of the Sealives.org site.

Port McNeill – Vancouver Island

By Jason Murphy. First Published 28/12/2017 


Port NcNeill is the jumping off point for much of the adventuring that goes on off Vancouver Island’s eastern coast. And while there isn’t much tourist activity going on here right now, tourism is only one aspect of how people make a living from the ocean, and it has become my jumping off point to begin my understanding of the issues facing marine ecology and coastal community culture in the area.

I came here because I had to start somewhere. My research told me that the world’s smallest marine park is in fact Echo Bay located just north from here in a corner of Gilford Island and very close to the much larger Broughton Archipelago Marine Park, an area of some fifty square miles covering some of the hundreds of islands and hidden saltwaterways of mainland BC’s west coast.

And the region faces many of the same issues that other marine parks and conservations areas in more glamorous tropical locations feature – the undeniably positive ecological effects of a network of marine parks in an environment that demands a constant balancing act between indigenous culture, commercial fishing, conservation of fish stocks, conservation of endangered species, eco tourism and aquaculture.

Having said that, this is not the obvious time of year to come here. Its very much the off-season from a tourism perspective and as such, opportunities for simply happening across photo opportunities are slim.

But I came here with a story angle in mind, and besides, I’m not here to tourist. I’m here to get a better understanding of what is really going on.

The story I came to capture focused on the kind of clear parallel between ocean life and human life that I have looked for with all of the potential geographical areas I have identified to explore.

The Johnstone Straight, Broughton Archipelago and Knight Inlet areas are known for whale watching. There are a surprising number of whale species that call the waters off BC home, but one in particular – the orca or killer whale – is the star of the show here, particularly in summer, when whale watching tours rely on frequent sightings.

What many people don’t know is that there are two very distinct groups of orca that frequent these waters – the north and south resident (or fish eating) orca, and the Biggs (or non-resident) orca.

So my angle was simple – resident and non-resident orcas vs. resident and non-resident people (i.e. tourists.) I figured this would be a neat way in to understanding the area and describing differing perspectives.

That idea didn’t last very long.Within a few hours of arriving here however I learned that the term “resident” orca is very relative. Resident orcas in fact stray quite far afield from here depending on the time of year (resident orcas have been spotted as far south as Oregon,) and are not “resident” throughout this whole area – areas of Johnstone straight, yes, but if you see an orca further north or in the inlets its almost certainly a transitory (mammal eating) orca.

So in fact the terms “resident” and “transitory” don’t play out in quite the way you might think.

And more importantly I have discovered that there is a much more specific story taking place.

It turns out that in addition to having entirely different habits, social structure, diet and language, the resident and transitory orca populations have different futures mapped out for them each with its own problems and pressures, and like many of the areas I have researched so far it involves the wider ecosystem of fish stock management, marine conservation and aquaculture.

Port McNeill is a regular place. It’s real, not a resort built only to serve the needs of tourists. As such its arguably not the most picturesque place to spend the few days between Christmas and new year – but I didn’t come here for a pretty picture, even if I might hope to leave with an interesting photograph – I came here to start building an accurate understanding of what is going on with regard to ocean conservation in the area, and in the last few days I have met marine biologists, government employees and people who live on the water and have through those encounters have gained an increased understanding of of the issues facing life here. Human life and aquatic life.

Nearby Telegraph Cove is pretty, but its designed that way.

A seasonal eco tourism attraction built around whale watching. A public boat ramp and dock along with some sincere efforts at conservation and education do add authenticity to the place, but without the summer visitors – the orcas, the tourists they attract and the seasonal staff employed to look after them – to bring life to the place, there isn’t much to occupy me there.

There are two potential directions that tomorrow may take me.

I’ll let you know how that goes.

What Stories Will the Sealives Initiative Cover First? – Here’s a list.

By Jason Murphy. First Published 23/12/2017 

The Sealives Initiative – Assignment List


All plans change, but you have to start with a plan.

This first list of assignments to be covered by Sealives is based on the contents of the Project Overview document published here a few days ago and is my first attempt to identify telling angles on story threads that connect the lives of individuals and the problems they face with the big issues of marine conservation.

It's an ambitious list. Probably too ambitious for a project that is only a few days old and only has one member. But I have to start somewhere, and having begun with the “view from space” that my overall research tried to capture this felt like the next rational step.

I have tried to include opportunities for optimism as well as pessimism, and assignments in locations that are familiar as well as remote (either geographically or culturally.) Some of them will move me away from portraiture into actual photojournalism, a challenge that I am looking forward to discovering if I am up to.

Most important of all, this list will change. It will change as new series come to light, current ones develop and new perspectives come into play as I and others as they become involved learn more about the issues.

The link above will take you to the full document outlining the actual story angles. Please review it if you get a chance – nothing will give you a clear idea of where the initiative is headed over the coming months.

In brief, the assignment list is as follows:

“Microcosm”*

An investigation of BC’s Johnstone Strait, Broughton Strait and Knight Inlet areas, a region that includes many of the tensions and pressures of marine protected areas, marine parks and coastal communities around the world, right on my doorstep.

 “Harvest”

A new breed of kelp farmers are doing pioneering work in the US.

“Survival”

Fishermen in the north Gulf of California are fishing illegally for an endangered species of bass – the tatoaba – for the high prices it fetches, and in the process have pushed the vaquita porpoise to the very edge of extinction. “Damage”Blast fishermen in the Philippines and Indonesia destroy their own bodies as they destroy the reefs they prey upon.

“Culture”

Scientists in Hawaii and Australia are experimenting with the transplantation of coral grown in tanks from archived coral sperm into reef systems devoted by coral bleaching caused by global warming.

“Progress”

The tiny islands of the world are some of the highest producers of garbage per capital and have very few options for dealing with it. Meanwhile new technologies are being tested to remove microplastics from the ocean.

“Siege”

The waters off Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia and Ecuador are rich with important deep sea species, and rich with illegal fishermen seeking to pull them out of the water. Enforcement actions do happen however.

“Depth”

Sophisticated fish tracking, vessel tracking and machine learning systems are being developed and used by NGOs and big tech companies to help enforce fishing restrictions in two of the most important marine protected areas on the planet.

“Waste”

The asian shrimp fishery and its tragic tale of human misery and a bycatch ratio of 20 tons of unwanted sea life taken for every 1 ton of shrimp caught.

*NB – Since changed to "Legacy".

 

 

 

 

Its Official – Sealives a Canadian Not-For-Profit

By Jason Murphy. First Published 23/12/2017 


The paperwork has come through and I am happy to announce that the Sealives Initiative is now officially a federally incorporated Canadian Not-For-Profit corporation.

This allows a couple of things:

Firstly it means that Sealives is immediately its own stand-alone entity. It will have its own finances, its own tax and reporting obligations and its own assets to be managed in such a way as to further the stated goals of the Initiative and only that.

Secondly it puts Sealives on the road to becoming a registered charity at some point before too long. This will allow Sealives to maximize its ability to apply its resources to its mission by reducing its tax burden and will allow donors to right off their contributions.

A registered charity is another thing again from a not-for-profit and my approach will be to demonstrate charitable activity by creating and publishing photography work in support of the Sealives mission before taking that step.

The next steps on the structural side will be to register the corporation under provincial law (necessary in Canada,) to set-up Sealives’ banking and to start looking around for other individuals to contribute and help run the Initiative.

A statement of Values for the Initiative will be posted at some point, but for sure Transparency will be one of them.

As part of that here are some of the entries from the Initiatives incorporation documents describing its purpose, structure and restrictions placed on its use of funds.

The corporations stated purpose and restrictions on its activities top the list. They read as follows:

Purpose
To promote better understanding of the complexities of marine conservation and the people and communities touched by issues of marine conservation wherever they may be. 

Restrictions On Activities
Sealives exists to educate the public at large to issues of marine conservation and its activities must be restricted to only that.

Its difficult to convey how happy I am about this development. Its a small but very important step.

I believe strongly in the mission that has been created here. Getting it off to the right start so that its mission and commitment to focusing on that and only that is made clear along with clarity on how funds associated with the Initiative will be applied is essential to its credibility moving forwards.

A New Photography Site is Up So That I Can Focus on This One

By Jason Murphy. First Published 19/12/2017 


Today’s development is that the new site to house my photographic work in general, not only pictures I take for Sealives is up at xysogram.com.

It was important to get this up quickly so that I have somewhere to showcase my work to date – somewhere to point people to so that they can get. An idea of what to expect from Sealives prior to my having any actual output to contribute to it.

Right now it contains the work from my recent trip to Indonesia but it will grow organically in two ways: a) through the gradual backfilling of older projects, and; b) incidental photographs I take along the way.

The Sealife Initiative is the main focus – I allowed myself one day on this to get it to somewhere decent before moving on.

The goal is that photos under the Xysogram name can be sold to as an extra source of income while I get this thing moving. I have no idea if this is actually possible but I guess I’m going to find out!

Initial Project Overview Document

By Jason Murphy. First Published 18/12/2017 

Document Link: Sealives Initiative – Project Overview


“Imagine the world from space.”

I used to say this as a joke in project meetings. I used it as an cliche example of how every corporate brief would start if entrepreneurs had their way. I said it as a humorous way to get beyond the titanic, over-generalized self-regard of believing we were about to change the world so that we were better positioned to tackle the actual communication challenge at hand.

I am reminded of that joke now because I have realized that, for a moment anyway, I need to move through that ultra high level view if I am to bring shape to Sealives without delay.

Inspired by the conversations I had with people I had met during my Indonesia trip, I resumed my research into the wider world of marine conservation as soon as I returned to Vancouver, with the goal of finding a way into the problem of conveying how the problems facing our oceans are actually problems facing people. I hoped to find some lens that would allow me to envision a project plan.

At first I thought I had found that with the 29 Heritage Reefs under threat detailed in the June 2017 UNESCO report on climate change and reef health.

If you haven’t read it by the way, you should. You can find it here.

My idea was that this list of important places under threat was a handy filter that would propel me to a travel itinerary in short order and that although there are many issues other than reef damage due to climate change that need to be covered (pollution, destructive fishing practices, etc,) the bleaching event problem is by far the most pressing and seemingly intractable and I felt that opportunities to cover other issues would present themselves along the way.

I quickly rejected this approach as not organized enough. The goal here is to communicate how specific issues of ocean conservation relate to individual people in a compelling way. Starting with the 29 reefs alone was not a good enough guarantee that I would be able to use limited resources to do that. If I’m going to do this I need to be more certain of success.

To this end, and despite the obvious risk of hubris, I have stepped back as far as I can and taken a high level, not to say satellite view of the areas that the Sealives project will ultimately need to cover and have begun shaping this into a project plan with the conviction that although this plan will have to change constantly as I go along, having a plan that begins with the broadest perspective possible will allow me to make sure to engage with the specific issues that need to be included in a thoughtful way. To gives me a way to apply my creative mind rather than just following my nose in other words.

“Following my nose” by the way is something I love to do and in my experience I have found it often leads to the most interesting results. There will be plenty of that therefore, but at least it starts within a rational framework.

The document is available via the link at the top of this post. Here it is again if you missed it. There are some obvious things missing – I have no expertise in applying scientific rigour for instance so there is nothing here on how that will play a part in what on some levels could be seen as an ethnographic study of sorts. The document is not meant to be absolutely complete. Its meant to be enough of a start to begin considering who will be the subjects of the first sets of photographs and what the first expedition itinerary might look like. A matrix of possibilities defined by the items (or Subject Definitions) identified in each Topic Area (my name for large, easily defined chunks of the global narrative.)

So. Imagine the world from space. But only for a minute or two. Then plunge into the details with me, or at least, to begin with descend to a suborbital view.

The next step will be to look at each topic area and identify specific documentary opportunities that I can go out and capture. Specific blog posts on this will follow, interspersed with other stuff.

Sealives Has a Logo!

By Jason Murphy. First Published 17/12/2017 


Its been a pretty busy day all-in-all. Decisions have been made regarding the formal structure of Sealives – or The Sealives Initiative (TSI) as it will be officially called. I have begun the process of incorporating TSI as a Not-For-Profit in Canada and the intention is to move the company to charity status as soon as possible.

While Sealives is essentially an educational / photojournalistic documentary project at its core, it will also serve as a testimony to the actions people are taking in the field in other ways including the written word. The idea is to properly structure the initiative, firstly as a Not-For-Profit and ultimately as a charity so that it will maintain its focus (no pun intended,) create an obligation to transparency right from the start and provide benefactors with any benefits that come with contributing to charitable ventures.

Today's really exciting news though is that I now have a logo for the initiative and its web properties going forwards.

Its been a while since I worked on a logo personally and coming up with this one has been a ton of fun.

Early iterations were more organic looking in the typical style of NGOs and other organisations in the marine conservation space, but as I worked through the designs I realized that I wanted something more clear-cut and technical looking in keeping with the project's focus on people's place in nature as much as nature itself  – something that would draw out the themes of ocean life and photography but that would also not look out of place as a sticker or patch on dive equipment or the like.

Overall I'm very pleased with the result and can't wait to start putting it to good use. Here it is – nice huh?

A Simple Compulsion

By Jason Murphy. First published 15/12/2017


Having recently returned from a month of travelling and diving in Indonesia I have realized that I cannot go on as normal. I must make a change. Writing this post is my first step along that path.

As a diver I have come to understand that local conservation efforts experience wins and losses in thousands of locations around the world on a daily basis, and while potential solutions for managing our oceans have never been more plentiful the sheer scale and urgency of the problems of destructive fishing practices, pollution and reef destruction caused by rising sea temperatures are such that effective change requires rapid global action.

But I am also struck by how personal the struggles are for individuals at every level.

Sealives will be my project to more fully understand the broader issues and put them in context of the daily lives of those involved.

I have started by researching the 29 Reefs that are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites that according to climate change models are most under threat.

It takes 10-15 years for a reef to recover from a bleaching event, of which there have been only three in our history – all taking place within the last 30 years, and we can now project when the frequency of bleaching events will increase to the degree that there will not be enough time for a full recovery between them.

Sites projected to encounter severe stress at least twice-per-decade within the next five years are Cocos Island National Park (Costa Rica), Galápagos Islands (Ecuador), Komodo National Park (Indonesia) and Phoenix Islands Protected Area (Kiribati).

I was diving in Komodo only two weeks ago. The thought that healthy reefs I have seen with my own eyes will be destroyed – will have literally died and rotted away – within the next ten years is as difficult to comprehend as it is seemingly impossible to prevent, but there are conservationists and locals who live there with that knowledge day-in day-out.

I need to make some plans. I need to get my camera going.