It has now been more than thirty years since this tireless activist began bringing attention at the Paul Ricard Institute of Oceanography (which bears the name of her grandfather); but who now with more than 70 other stakeholders has come together to collaborate on the Ocean and Climate Platform.
Patricia Ricard speaks clearly and fast, sure of herself. She is a born enthusiast. When asked what she thinks about the initiative by SeaWeb based on Olivier Roellinger's culinary competition that announced the winners of its 5th edition on June 8th, she exclaimed,
"I find this initiative to be truly excellent! The talents that [this competition] highlights are accelerators for bringing about awareness. The fact that famous chefs are saying that we cannot just eat everything, from anywhere or at anytime, this is truly advancing things."
And she should know, if you consider all of the initiatives she has seen since taking over the reigns of the Institute. Have there been any prominent victories that have truly left a mark?
Patricia Ricard doesn't quite view things in this light. "There aren't any victories that are particularly striking on their own, but rather a string of victories. The first actors like Jacques Cousteau or Dr. Alain Bombard and Paul Ricard opened the path by bringing attention to the fact that the sea needs to rest itself, restore itself. And the first big victories rest on this simple idea that the preservation of this environmental milieu is important through the creation of Natural Reserves and Parks such as Port-Cros or more recently the Calanques National Park (next to Marseille - NDLR).
Another important achievement was the Grenelle de la Mer (2009 - NDLR). It was developed at a time when NGOs and commercial maritime stakeholders did not speak to one another. Since then, various initiatives have emerged such as the Surfrider Foundation, which has opened the dialogue between surfers and French shipowners. Ten years ago, such an initiative would have been considered unthinkable."
But for anyone who has followed the hectic negations of COP21, it can now generally be accepted that December 2015 was a landmark event, which Patricia readily admits. "Can you imagine? It took 21 meetings to get the word ocean into the dialogue! While we've known for so long already that the oceans are at the center of climate mechanisms."
So, finally it's done, the world is going to be better and fish will be happy.
Not really. And Patricia isn't the type of person to declare the end of a battle that requires constant vigilance, especially when considering that not all populations are in the same boat. "In fact, the fight against poverty cannot be disassociated from that of the protection of the environment. Try telling someone that there is nothing to eat but that he can't go fishing because it is a Natural Reserve or a moratorium is being enforced. It is necessary to bring local responses to a global problem with an eco-systematic approach, while searching for solutions based on the environment." And then for the issues of overfishing or the acidification of oceans, Patricia openly admits that there is still much to be done.
Come on, a final little action for the future that we can imagine as we head out?
"Yes, I wish that we could acknowledge the work of young researches today by creating a system of scientific patronage, based on the model of that for culture." Readers take note, as Patricia Ricard has proven that she is often ahead of the current when it comes to political decisions.