Can we be well in a sick sea?

Can we be well in a sick sea?

Written by:
Name: Isa Woulfe
Profession: AORA-CSA / Marine Institute





Easkey Britton, marine social scientist from the SOPHIE Project, talks to AORA at the All-Atlantic Ocean ResearchForum held in Brussels from 6-7 February 2020. She discusses her thought-provoking presentation entitled, Can We Be Well in a Sick Sea? which explores the impact of the ocean on the health and well-being of communities.


What inspired the title of your presentation Can We Be Well in a Sick Sea?


Most of what I research looks at the connection that humans have with the ocean and how what is happening in society is mirrored in our environment - specifically in our oceans where all our waste and the consequences of our behaviours end up.


Within the SOPHIE Project, which looks at seas, oceans and public health in Europe, we are trying to understand what it is that people, citizens and scientists prioritise for the sustainable future in the context of a healthy ocean as well as the impact that, that has on the health and wellbeing of communities.


The human connection with the ocean was a topic taken up by the All-Atlantic Ocean Youth Ambassadors at the forum. As someone who grew up by the sea and is known as a famous surfer back in Donegal, Ireland, what is your relationship with the ocean?


What the Youth Ambassadors talked about is really at the heart of that. How do you connect the mind with the heart? For all of us, it is that passion that we have for the ocean that motivates us. Ultimately, we do it out of a place of love and that is certainly my experience in growing up on the west coast of Ireland. The sea is infused in every part of my life. As a surfer, I got so much benefit from it. It is what energizes me.


It is becoming increasingly important to integrate and marry passion and knowledge with action and thereby help us to connect, engage and create awareness.


 What was your impression of the presentation by the All-Atlantic Ocean Youth Ambassadors?


What I really loved about the presentation by the All-Atlantic Ocean Youth Ambassadors was how they embodied what they talked about. When they presented, they were there together supporting each other on the stage. You could really sense the authenticity - they all feel it, live it, breathe it, and that passion comes across strongly.


 They reminded us about the importance of what matters most and the power of stories. The stories that we tell is what makes us human. It is how we make meaning and understand the world. What they are creating is a whole new narrative for our Atlantic and our connection to the sea through stories. The other really important thing is capturing the diversity of that. We need so much more diversity and inclusion, particularly in ocean science, for the complex challenges and problems that we face. I'm excited for what comes next!