With oceans at a crisis point and funding for environmental journalism drying up, we are launching Ocean Matters. The project will ensure that the oceans’ under-reported stories get told in media outlets and in classrooms across the world. We need you to join us in reversing the tide by reading, sharing and supporting in-depth journalism. Your tax-deductable donation—whether at $10, $50 or $10,000—will support the kind of high-quality reporting that can make a difference in the fight for healthy seas.
There are many more stories to tell—from acidification, to biodiversity loss, to trans-boundary conflicts and more—and we need your help to do it. We will match all donations up to $25,000. With $50,000, we can support at least three in-depth ocean reporting projects, incorporate these projects in a new Ocean Matters Gateway, and bring participating journalists to university and secondary classrooms to discuss their work. These projects will be selected and produced over the next year—and we hope this is just the beginning of what will be a sustained focus on ocean issues.
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Video is of photojournalist Dominic Bracco talking about his project on overfishing.
On March 19 at 6 pm, join the Pulitzer Center, in association with the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital, for an evening of films and conversation on the state of our oceans. Drawing on Pulitzer Center reporting currently in progress for major news media outlets by award-winning journalists, the screening will include a selection of short films that explore some of the most critical, and timely, topics related to one of the planet’s most valuable yet under-appreciated resources: our oceans.
Pulitzer Center Executive Director Jon Sawyer will moderate the discussion with journalists Jim Wickens and Erik Vance, and Dr. Liz Selig, co-author of the Ocean Health Index. Selig, director of marine science with Conservation International’s Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Ecosystem Science and Economics, has led or co-authored several peer-reviewed publications on the topics of marine ecology and conservation, coral reefs, climate change, and marine protected areas.
The screened films will include:
Emptying the World’s Aquarium: (Mexico, 2013) Jacques Cousteau called it “the world’s aquarium.” A vast and lush underwater paradise surrounded by arid desert and thick mangrove, the Sea of Cortez has captivated explorers from Francisco de Ulloa to John Steinbeck. With half a million tons of seafood taken per year, 6,000 cataloged species, and perhaps 6,000 yet to be found, few places on Earth boast such diversity of life. But today industrial fishing operations are decimating the sea’s bounty. Produced by Dominic Bracco II and Erik Vance.
The Chemical Sea (Papua New Guinea, 2013) explores ocean acidification, the lesser-known “evil twin” of climate change. Featured video will focus on the South Pacific where acidification threatens the world’s most diverse marine environment. In Papua New Guinea scientists are studying the world’s only known coral reef naturally steeped in CO2: providing a glimpse into the future. Produced in collaboration with The Seattle Times.
Grinding Nemo: (Thailand, 2012) Environmental and investigative journalist Jim Wickens presents a film that investigates the human and environmental exploitation taking place in the tropical shrimp industry of Thailand. In association with the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation and Swedwatch,Grinding Nemo reveals a little-known contributor to the environmental disaster wreaked by the West’s love of cheap tropical seafood: fishmeal. Endangered species and juvenile fish alike, caught in bulk by massive, sweeping nets, are ground up and sold as food for farmed shrimp like tiger prawns. Human rights violations and frequent fishing in illegal waters also characterize the fishmeal production process. In addition to showing Grinding Nemo, Wickens will also talk about other ocean-related projects currently under development.
Additional selections and detailed listings will be featured prior to the Festival at:http://pulitzercenter.org/events/environmental-film-festival-2013.
For more information on the 2013 Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital, visit their website.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Carnegie Institution for Science
Elihu Root Auditorium, 1530 P Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
Free and open to the public.
RSVP encouraged at: http://dceff2013-pulitzercenter.eventbrite.com
Reception to follow discussion.
For decades, workers from Indonesia and the Philippines have migrated to Sabah Province in Malaysia to harvest the lucrative palm oil fruit. The industry has benefited from this source of cheap labor to meet the increasing demand for the oil, which is found in more than half of all products sold in U.S. supermarkets, from cookies to cosmetics.
PBS NewsHour special correspondent Steve Sapienza reports on how a plantation owned by PPB Oil Palms is partnering with a local nonprofit called Humana to address the growing education needs of its child workers. By providing the money for the construction of the school, while Humana provides the teachers and study plans, the palm oil says that it has also been able to attract and retail skilled labor.
Photos courtesy of Steve Sapienza
See more of Pulitzer Center grantee Steve Sapienza and Jason Motlagh’s work on stateless children in the palm oil industry here.
You may have heard about palm oil’s environmental impacts, but do you know about its social costs? Pulitzer Center grantees Steve Sapienza and Jason Motlagh investigated the rising number of stateless children in the palm oil fields, who lack access to education. Listen to Steve talk about the difficulties in getting the story in this video. Read and see more of their work on this issue here.
Stateless: Migrant workers in Borneo
“But change the subject to the migrant laborers who work the plantations that keep the tankers revving around the clock, and the mood at the table sours a bit. With a passing mention of the vital role legions of Indonesians and Filipinos play by filling back-breaking plantation jobs for a pittance, the men grumbled vaguely about an increase in drunken behavior (“…the migrants are causing public disturbances”); the erosion of local culture and traditions; and the threat they posed to local employment prospects (“…what about the locals?”).
That migrants do work most Malaysians would never consider does not occur to anyone. Nor does it seem to register that, without legal documents, they tend to avoid authorities at all costs. “The foreigners must be controlled. They are stealing jobs… Those that don’t have documents should be kicked out of Malaysia,” says Arnan Angkut, 50, a contractor. But what about those who have toiled for years on remote plantations under harsh conditions? Surely their children deserve access to health care and an education given their parents’ labors on behalf of the national economy? He relented, slightly. “That’s up to the bosses (of the plantations). They can take care of their workers as they see fit. We don’t want to pay for anything.”
The sentiment persists despite labor shortages in the palm oil industry. Read the whole Untold Stories here and see Jason’s other articles, photos and video on stateless workers in the palm oil industry here.
Pulitzer Center grantee Jason Motlagh talks to the director of the only school group operating in Malaysia’s palm oil plantations in his latest Untold Stories post. Some companies have started to educate their workers’ children, who are often stateless and invisible to the government. Read the whole story here.
Photo: Children of migrant workers receive free lessons at a learning center set up with help from the Humana Child Aid Society on one of Sabah’s largest plantations. Image by Jason Motlagh. Borneo, 2012.
“Gold never brought us happiness… The Romans conquered this land for the gold. The Austro-Hungarians came here for the gold. Then the communists. And now this company. Before they were called invaders, now they are called investors. This is evolution, I guess.” -Andrei Gruber
Inspired by gold’s skyrocketing price, Rosia Montana Gold Corp. has been trying to jump-start a colossal mining operation in the historic mining town of Rosia Montana. But the process has been mired in controversy and fierce opposition. Dimiter Kenarov has the story »
Image by Nadia Shira Kohen. Romania, 2011.
China produces 57 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks every year, which requires over 1.18 million square meters of forest, according to the Forest Ministry’s statistics from 2004 to 2009.
After China’s 1998 logging ban, attention turned to harvesting bamboo. The industry brings in millions of dollars each year for the country’s economy. But as demand for bamboo skyrockets, widespread over-harvesting could lead to a new ecological crisis in the region. Image by Sean Gallagher, who also has the story.