Global Crisis Facing Small-Scale Fisheries Is Brought Into Focus In Film And Forums At Smithsonian Earth Optimism Summit

Share Article

In Earth Day Activities, Rare Offers Hope of Addressing One of the World’s Most Urgent and Complex Conservation Issues

“This is the first step in being able to solve the global challenge of overfishing,” said Steve Box, VP of Global Fisheries Solutions at Rare.

In honor of Earth Day on Saturday, April 22, and in affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution and Smithsonian Channel, global conservation organization Rare will elevate the urgency of sustainable management of small-scale fisheries. Rare and partners will do this through both speaking forums at the Earth Optimism Summit in Washington, D.C. and through AN OCEAN MYSTERY: THE MISSING CATCH, a documentary film produced by the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation set to premiere on Earth Day at the Summit and on Smithsonian Channel at 8 PM EST. Registration is open at

Rare’s involvement in the three-day Earth Optimism Summit reinforces its commitment to inspiring behavior change in conservation, serves to announce its role in an award-winning documentary and highlights its innovative new fishing app that could dramatically change data collection for small-scale fisheries in the developing world.

“The Earth Optimism Summit is the perfect forum to elevate the crisis facing small-scale fisheries and the solutions that can avert it, both of which are rooted in community behavior change,” said Brett Jenks, President and CEO of Rare. “The powerful combination of fishing data and community-led change efforts are key to enduring conservation results for coastal communities and habitats.”


The impact of overfishing presents a global threat to food security, livelihoods and marine biodiversity. AN OCEAN MYSTERY: THE MISSING CATCH, premiering on the Smithsonian Channel and produced by the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation on Saturday, April 22, at 8 PM ET and screening at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History the same day, explores the dramatic underreporting of fish catch which has led to a global misperception of how depleted the world’s fisheries truly are and putting food, livelihoods and incomes at risk for some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

The documentary follows the scientific team of Dr. Daniel Pauly, principal investigator for the Sea Around Us project at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Ocean and Fisheries, along with Dr. Steve Box, VP of Global Fisheries Solutions at Rare, as they uncover the shocking truth regarding the extent of fisheries collapse. The Sea Around Us’ decade-long big-data investigation has high stakes as millions of people around the world rely on the oceans for food, jobs, climate regulation and more. AN OCEAN MYSTERY: THE MISSING CATCH trailer is available here:


A source of hope featured in the documentary is the OurFish App, a fish catch reporting system that transforms the way local communities monitor their fisheries logging, amongst other things, species caught, catch location and catch quantity. The app’s brainchild, Dr. Steve Box, VP of Global Fisheries Solutions at Rare, and a team of technology experts, conservation practitioners and local fishing groups developed the OurFish App in response to evidence illustrating that global fish catches are underreported by as much as 200%.

“This is the first step in being able to solve the global challenge of overfishing,” said Box. “Having this kind of data and information available on a global scale will enable us to more accurately assess our impact, and take the necessary steps to limit it while also sustaining the fisheries that are so important to these coastal communities.”

With Rare’s expertise in working with communities and shifting community behaviors, Rare is uniquely suited to ensure the adoption of this new tool. Designed to be used by fish buyers, rather than fishers, the app’s novel approach has resulted in reliable usage and data collection in its pilot launches in small-scale fishing communities from Honduras to Myanmar. In Myanmar, over 100,000 landing records have already been collected. For more information about the OurFish App, please visit OurFish is available to download on Google Play at [


Over Earth Day weekend, the Smithsonian Institution will gather its own leaders, researchers, practitioners, philanthropists, artists, students, and community, government and civic leaders in Washington, D.C. to share and celebrate solutions to preserve biodiversity, protect natural resources and address climate change. The three-day Earth Optimism Summit event will feature a series of TED-style talks, workshops, exhibits and film screenings.

Rare CEO Brett Jenks will be presenting on Rare’s expertise in community behavior change and how critical it is to enduring conservation solutions in a session on April 21 entitled “Inspiring Positive Action: Getting People to Do the Right Thing.”

Dr. Steve Box will be participating at the Earth Optimism Summit through two sessions that highlight Rare’s behavior change expertise, the OurFish app, his role in AN OCEAN MYSTERY: THE MISSING CATCH and implementation of behavior change and technology methodology in Rare’s fisheries program.

For more information about his “Apps for the Planet” panel on April 21, please visit His panel and the premiere of AN OCEAN MYSTERY: THE MISSING CATCH will be on April 22, at 6 p.m., at the Baird Auditorium, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and will include a follow-up discussion about potential solutions with Dr. Steve Box, the filmmaker from the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation and fisheries scientists from Sea Around Us.

In addition to the events in Washington, D.C., Jose Ambrocio, a Rare Fellow from the Philippines, will be presenting at Earth Optimism events in London and Cambridge, UK. Jose will be sharing his experience in designing and implementing Rare’s signature Pride campaigns in his community of Looc, Occidental Mindoro.

Ranked in the top 25 NGOs in the world by NGO Advisor, Rare is an innovative conservation organization that implements proven conservation solutions and trains local leaders in communities worldwide. Through its signature social marketing campaigns (called Pride campaigns), Rare inspires people to take pride in the species and habitats that make their community unique, while also introducing practical alternatives to environmentally destructive practices. Employees of local governments or non-profit organizations receive extensive training on fisheries management, campaign planning and social marketing to communities. They are equipped to deliver community-based solutions based on natural and social science, while leveraging policy and market forces to accelerate positive environmental change through programs in clean water, sustainable agriculture, and coastal fisheries. To learn more about Rare, please visit

For more information and downloadable imagery, please visit our electronic press kit at


The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation is a non-profit environmental science organization and ocean research foundation established to help preserve, protect and restore the world’s oceans and aquatic resources through research, education, and outreach. Our mission is to protect and restore ocean health by providing science-based solutions. We want to make ocean conservation a high priority and hope that our work empowers people to keep ocean resources healthy and sustainable.

The Foundation was established in 2000 by His Royal Highness Prince Khaled bin Sultan of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Since then, the Foundation has organized many large-scale scientific surveys including the Global Reef Expedition, the world’s largest coral reef survey and high-resolution habitat mapping expedition.

Based in the United States, our core staff are located in Annapolis, MD and work closely with scientists and partners around the world to study the health and resiliency of coral reefs.


Smithsonian Channel™, owned by Smithsonian Networks™, a joint venture between Showtime Networks Inc. and the Smithsonian Institution, is where curiosity lives, inspiration strikes and wonders never cease. This is the place for awe-inspiring stories, powerful documentaries and amazing entertainment across multiple platforms. Smithsonian Channel combines the storytelling prowess of SHOWTIME® with the unmatched resources and rich traditions of the Smithsonian, to create award-winning programming that shines new light on popular genres such as air and space, history, science, nature, and pop culture. Among the network’s offerings are series including Aerial America, Million Dollar American Princesses, Polar Bear Town, The Weapon Hunter, The Lost Tapes, Mighty Ships, Mighty Planes and Air Disasters, as well as critically-acclaimed specials that include Building Star Trek, The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima, MLK: The Assassination Tapes and The Day Kennedy Died. Smithsonian Networks also operates Smithsonian Earth™, through SN Digital LLC., a new subscription video streaming service delivering spectacular original nature and wildlife content. To learn more, go to, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Sea Around Us is a research initiative at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries. The project is led by Daniel Pauly, Dirk Zeller and Deng Palomares and it focuses on assessing the impact of fisheries on the marine ecosystems of the world.

The Sea Around Us provides data and analyses through View Data and articles in peer-reviewed journals. The project regularly updates its products at the scale of countries’ Exclusive Economic Zones, Large Marine Ecosystems, the High Seas and other spatial scales, and as global maps and summaries.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Julie Langlie, 410.353.4587, julie.langlie(at)bullseyecomm(dot)com -OR-
Heather Marohn, 908.268.3770, heather.marohn(at)bullseyecomm(dot)com

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Julie Langlie
Bullseye Communications
+1 410-353-4587
Email >