Along with a thriving career that has garnered two Emmys, three Golden Globes, and decades of longevity, Ted Danson feels equally passionate about his other life’s work: saving the world’s oceans. The star discusses his commitment to this cause on the new exclusive ichannel series Celebrity Soapbox. The program profiles famous people and the charitable or social causes they adopt, support and represent.
Danson says that one of the catalysts of his oceanic interest was an epiphanic moment when he had to explain to his daughter why she couldn’t swim at the beach. The water was deemed unsafe, because of pollution.
He helped found the American Oceans Campaign in 1987, originally established to challenge offshore drilling in coastal California. In 2002, American Oceans Campaign merged with Oceana, the largest conservation organization in the world. Danson sits on the board of directors of Oceana, often serving as spokesperson. In 2007, he addressed the World Trade Organization in Geneva concerning the issues of subsidizing and over-fishing.
One key factor identified by Oceana that precipitates over-fishing is governmental subsidies for the industry. These subsidies enable large commercial fisheries to afford bigger boats and fleets that trawl giant expanses of the ocean floor, causing considerable damage to the ecosystem.
Another concern is “bi-catching”, which refers to the practice of catching species of fish, other than those the fishermen intended to net. Generally, these fish, sea turtles and various undersea life are disposed of. According to Danson, ten to thirty percent of each catch is discarded, which is taking its toll on fish populations. He uses the catchphrase, “Count it. Catch it. Control it,” meaning that entire catches should be counted against fishermen’s quotas, regardless of species.
Quoting U.N. figures, he says one-third of the earth’s fisheries have already collapsed, with “seventy five percent of fisheries either fully over-fished or right at the brink”. He indicates that “according to science coming out of Canada”, in fifty…sixty…seventy years we will fish out our oceans.
Overall, Danson gives Canada kudos on its subsidy and commercial fishing policies. However, he encourages citizens to engage the government and close loopholes that allow too much freedom to the global fishing industry, “This is not about ‘don’t catch fish’. This is about making sure we take care of that resource, so it’ll be there for everybody.”
The world premiere of Celebrity Soapbox is on Monday, June 8th, at 9:00pm ET. ichannel – Intelligent Television – is available by subscription through local cable and satellite television providers across Canada. The digital cable network is owned and operated by Stornoway Communications.