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Pete Bethune, founder of Earthrace Conservation, on the Eco Tribe
"In recent times I’ve started to look at the conservation movement as tribalism. It gives people something bigger to belong to than just themselves. Humankind historically has been tribal but, recently, many societies have lost these familial connections. We’ve lost our natural tribes, being limited to small families instead, or in many cases not even that. So we look for other things to replace this. Following our local football team, national rugby team or some basketball franchise is one way we satisfy our tribal urge. The connections, though, are loose. We wouldn’t bleed our own blood, or at least hopefully not, for the sake of a football team.
"Conservation is uniting people in a similar way; however, the sense of belonging and contribution is much stronger. People are willing to sacrifice much more in support of their tribe. Further to this, their tribe is one of many sub-tribes making up the conservation movement in general. So all the conservation groups, including Earthrace, are all sub-tribes with converging values and ideals, and together we make up a very considerable tribe that is a growing and mobile force around the globe."
How ECO works
Earthrace Conservation is a powerful fusion of direct action, knowledge and expertise, education, and most importantly, passion, which we strongly believe will grow into one of the most effective marine conservation groups in the world.
The oceans cover over 70% of the earth’s surface – they are vast. The scale of the problems and issues being faced by marine mammals and the habitats they live in is equally immense.
In our first year, our volunteer teams undertook missions in connection with the continuing annual hunting and slaughter of cetaceans and other marine animals in various countries across the world. We help to make hunting of sea turtles illegal in Trinidad, protested world-wide against seal harvesting in Namibia, including a powerful protest in front of the Namibian Government buildings in the country itself, supported calls for end to commercial whaling by countries such as Japan, Norway and Iceland, and an end to indigenous or aboriginal hunting in places like the Faroe Islands and Australia. We also campaigned against the preying on sharks for their fins, and ran campaigns against the use of captive whales and dolphins as entertainment.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and the prevalence of poaching are high priorities, especially in coastal areas around Africa and South America, and threats from by-catch, and the waste of fish through discards that decimate marine life, habitats and local livelihoods around the globe are also areas we are paying close attention to. The world needs to find ways to minimise the immense damage all these practices inflict on our oceans.
These all remain areas of concern for all our volunteers, and we will continue to protest and campaign vigorously for all of them.
There are new Earthrace Chapters opening in cities around the world where teams of volunteers are working on issues in their own backyards.
Supporting their activities, we’ll spread news of their campaigns further afield to wider audiences to help them achieve their local goals. The sharks and manatees of Florida; the critically endangered Maui’s dolphins of North Island New Zealand; dolphins drives in the Faroe Islands, and the seals of La Jolla in California are already on our agendas.
Kudos to all conservation groups
If existing organisations and groups think we can offer some fresh ideas, or work alongside them in support of an existing campaign to help them achieve their goals, then we are happy to help however we can.