As an entrepreneur, strategic communications professional, and policy wonk, I've worked on social innovations in the for-profit and non-profit world, helping to develop campaigns and solutions to social and natural resource challenges.

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Thursday
Oct312013

Inspired to Act: For the Oceans, For a Great Friend

Elyssa Rosen always focused on conservation, is pictured here at a Pew Charitable Trust reception at the CCAMLR meeting this past July in Bremerhaven, Germany. Photo Credit: Dave Walsh

On Saturday October 26, 2013 the world lost an extremely influential and life-long conservationist, Elyssa Rosen, at the young age of 48. While not known well in the public eye, she was known in conservation circles and among members of the media as one of the most effective and respected communications professionals in the field. She was a close friend and mentor of mine.

Elyssa died while SCUBA diving off the southern coast of Tasmania, Australia. She was in Tasmania with the Pew Charitable Trust along with a host of other organizations and countries, advocating for the creation of the world's largest marine reserves.

Members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which includes 24 nations and the European Union, are meeting this week in Hobart, Tasmania, to once again consider creating a Ross Sea Marine Reserve and an area to protect waters off the Eastern Antarctic.

The United States and New Zealand have proposed a sanctuary that would extend for 1.32 million square kilometers in the Ross Sea with a 1.25 million square kilometer "no-take" area proposed. This according to Grist is a reduction of 40% from the original proposed area to appease concerns from negotiators such as Russia. A second proposal for a separate area, has been put forward by Australia and the EU, calling for protecting 1.6 million sqkm of waters off the East Antarctic. Both proposals are under consideration at the meetings.

With the United Nations reporting that 85 percent of the world’s fisheries are in decline, these proposed protected areas are a critical addition to the relatively small network of protect areas world wide. While effective, the almost 6,000 Marine Protect Areas create a patchwork that only covers an area under 2% of the world's oceans. The new proposed areas would be the world's largest and pay major dividends in marine conservation for generations to come. 

However, there is concern that extraordinary progress in the past few months of negotiating is being stifled by some. And with decisions set to be issued shortly, it seems as though CCAMLR might put off making these decisions.

That's where Elyssa Rosen, the consumate conservation advocate, still might have the ability to influence the outcome of the meetings.

Andrea Vance of New Zealand's Stuff wrote about call by many in Hobart and around the world to honor Rosen's legacy by voting to created the protected areas - Sea sanctuaries as lasting tribute. What's even more important to consider is that Rosen's last hours were in just one of these protected areas, the Tinderbox Marine Nature Reserve.

On twitter the hashtag #4Elyssa has been appearing as organizations and individuals call for CCAMLR members to act and honor Rosen's legacy: 

 

 


No matter what the results are from October's meetings in Tasmania, Rosen's legacy will live on. When the Ross Sea and eastern Antarctica protected areas are enacted, Eylssa Rosen will have played an important part. 

Rosen's family released a statement on Facebook regarding her passing and hoping that "those who have been or are inspired by Elyssa's legacy will commit to advancing the conservation efforts she advocated for. Her life represents a call to action and a light for good, that we will always honor through our own actions and love."

Here's the full statement:

FAMILY STATEMENT ON THE SUDDEN PASSING OF LIFE-LONG CONSERVATIONIST ELYSSA ROSEN

On October 26, 2013 United States citizen Elyssa Rosen, of Reno, Nevada passed away at the age of 48 as the result of a SCUBA diving accident off the coast of Tasmania, Australia. Ms. Rosen was a lifelong and career environmental conservationist, having worked in the field for over twenty years.

Elyssa and her colleagues were diving in the Tinderbox Marine Nature Reserve, near Hobart.  She was attending the conference of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (Ccamlr) as an employee of the PEW Charitable Trust.

Elyssa's family has released the following statement:

"Elyssa Rosen was an incredibly loving partner, sister and daughter, and caring aunt - her family, friends, colleagues all continue to mourn her passing. We are very thankful for the prayers we've received during this difficult time.

Elyssa was a committed steward of all things around her - she loved people and the natural world with a great passion and selflessness. We take some comfort knowing her last moments came in a place that reflected her passion and commitment to conservation and protecting natural resources around the world. As we reflect on her life, we are emboldened by her vision and actions to sustain the richness of our world and to celebrate the joy of humanity.

We hope those who have been or are inspired by Elyssa's legacy will commit to advancing the conservation efforts she advocated for. Her life represents a call to action and a light for good, that we will always honor through our own actions and love."

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