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:


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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".