The Emerald Sea Protection Society is a non-profit organization based in British Columbia, Canada. The organization is made up of a group of divers, scientists and professionals working together to address the issue of lost and abandoned fishing gear.
Bourton founded the Emerald Sea Protection Society as a platform to carry out research and recovery projects to protect the underwater environments along the Pacific Northwest Coast of Canada. Working the vast coastline of BC as a commercial diver Bourton has experienced first hand the devastating effects of lost fishing gear and marine debris on underwater ecosystems. Eager to improve this situation, Bourton began applying his knowledge and experience to tackle the complex issue of lost fishing gear in Canada to help preserve the sensitive and unique underwater ecology.
Gideon works with multiple NGOs and NFPs internationally, focusing mainly on data analysis, mapping and web application design. He supports ESPS by building online location collaboration tools, developing theoretical models of net and gear distribution and developing mapping tools track progress and build a crucial shared knowledge repository that can help multiple stakeholders. Gideon is a life long sailor and recognizes the value and unique beauty of the Pacific North West's marine ecology.
With the Emerald Sea Protection Society's collaboration with the GGGI (Global Ghost Gear Initiative), Gideon chairs the 'Build Evidence' working group, coordinating researchers from multiple organizations in their work to provide data and evidence relating to the issue of abandoned fishing gear.
Jennifer moved to British Columbia at the age of 16 to begin University in Victoria for her Bachelor of Education Degree. Jennifer has a long standing love of the sea, growing up sailing around the Gulf Islands and continuing to do so through adulthood, has made her an avid environmental educator and activist. Jennifer later completed two masters degrees in counseling and Educational Leadership. Now, as Principal of Shoreline Middle School in Victoria, Jennifer takes the lead on environmental initiatives including piloting a sustainability 6-8 program with local teachers. While living in Sooke is a luxury, it also to Jennifer comes with the responsibility of being the stewards of our surroundings.
Joel has lived and worked on the west coast of British Columbia his entire life. Prior to taking on his current role of Deputy Director of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, Joel worked for 20 years in the Canadian fishing industry. Joel spent 13 years as Operations Supervisor for Steveston Harbour Authority - Canada’s largest commercial fishing harbour - during which time he started Canada’s first end-of-life net recycling program in an effort to find a sustainable way to dispose of end of life fishing nets. Over a three year period, this program managed to recycle some 150,000 kg of end of life nets.
Joel is also a recipient of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans Prix d’Excellence (2016) and a 2017 Canada’s Clean50 Honouree in relation to his net recycling work. He is also a past co-Chair for the City of Richmond’s Advisory Committee on the Environment, and a past President of the Harbour Authority Association of British Columbia.
Living in Sooke and working as a commercial diver, Gabriel has always been a lover of nature and animals. With an extensive background in construction, rigging, a post-secondary education of honors in physics and mechanical engineering and over 1,000 logged commercial dives, Gabriel brings a well-rounded background for both the surveying and retrieval of marine debris from the sea floor. Additionally, he is an experienced commercial boat operator and is a commercial dive supervisor. His extensive diving experience has unfortunately allowed him to witness the problem of lost fishing gear on our ocean's floor, and he is committed to help reverse this damage.
Brooke Lees is a museum professional that specializes in exhibit design and content development. Her work is inspired by local history, contemporary socio-cultural issues and environmental concerns. Brooke uses design and thorough research to help make complex issues understandable and relevant to public audiences, and feels that a successful museum experience can challenge belief sets and foster change. She became involved as an ESPS board director to assist with graphic design and public awareness regarding the increasing marine debris issue - believing strongly that our actions on land ultimately affect the health of our oceans.
Ally developed a lifelong love for the water growing up on the shores of Lake Ontario and has been a passionate environmentalist for as long as she can remember. She began running anti-litterbug campaigns at age seven and remains dedicated to waste reduction initiatives today. Ally completed BSc and MSc degrees at UBC that focused on marine conservation, ecology, and fisheries science. Since then, she has worked in coastal communities across the globe with various NGOs and research projects focused on marine resource sustainability. While she has witnessed ocean degradation first hand, she has also seen the power of communities to make change. Ally currently works on a coastal restoration project in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and continues to battle litterbugs in her spare time via shoreline cleanups, stewardship activities, research initatives, (attempting) zero waste living, and spreading community awareness. Ally is thrilled to bring her scientific experience and passion to Emerald Sea.
Growing up in British Columbia, Patrick has always felt a strong connection to our local waterways. Diving locally and around the world has shown him how fragile the marine ecosystem can be and that engaged communities are vital to its protection.
As an Assistant Store Manager with Patagonia, Patrick has been able to witness the difference that grassroots, action-focused non-profits can make. While the majority of his work is in people-management, he hopes to provide organizational, strategic, and structural support for Emerald Sea Protection Society in 2019.