Claire Nouvian

  • Founder of BLOOM

    © Françoise Lemarchand

  • Since April 2022: Board Member of the ‘Sea Around Us’ project, started by Dr. Daniel Pauly in 1999 at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, Canada. The Sea Around Us is devoted to documenting and disseminating information on the impacts of fisheries on marine ecosystems and to the proposal of policies to mitigate these impacts.
  • 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize Winner
  • 2015: a new genus of deep-sea Bamboo Coral found in the Bahamas is named after Claire “Cladarisis nouvianae”
  • Environment Award by “Positive Planet” (Jacques Attali’s group), Dec. 2015
  • “Committed Women” Award (Mondadori / Yves Rocher), Oct. 2015
  • Ashoka Fellow, Oct. 2014
  • Medal of the National Merit, May 2013 (never claimed by Claire)
  • Pew Marine Fellow, 2012
  • Associated with the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE)- Resigned in January 2013
  • “Environmental Woman of the Year” in the 2012 “Femmes en Or” Awards
  • 2007: Curator of “The Deep” Exhibition at the Natural History Museum (Paris). The exhibition then went on an Asian tour (Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Taiwan…)
  • 2006: Author of “The Deep” (French publisher Fayard, US co-publisher The University of Chicago Press. Published in 10 languages)

 It all started in the deep

In November 2007, in a special issue dedicated to Cousteau’s heirs, the magazine Géo named Claire Nouvian ‘the planet’s guardian angel’. The article emphasized her extraordinary character and acknowledged her total commitment to the protection of the deep sea, which, despite being absolutely essential to the planet’s balance, is particularly misunderstood and vulnerable.

The Backstory: In 2001, whilst on a reconnaissance trip for a film at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in the United States, Claire discovered incredible creatures of spectacular shapes and astonishing colors. These were unidentified animals, some of which had been filmed at a depth of 4000 meters. Captivated and dazzled, she sought to learn more about them, perplexed by the fact that there was no exhaustive document about the deep sea available to the general public.

Her feelings quickly turned to outrage on discovering that the deep sea had been exploited by large-scale fishing boats for nearly 30 years, and that no treaty or law protected international waters, even though they cover two-thirds of the planet. Consequently coral reefs, that can take up to 10,000 years to form, are razed in a matter of minutes by gigantic trawl nets dragging ballasts weighing several tons, irreversibly destroying biologically-rich ecosystems that are still virtually unknown to man.

This flagrant injustice spurred Claire Nouvian to launch, body and soul, into a race against time. The aim: tip the public opinion in favor of the protection of the deep sea. The method: utilize all existing means of communication to help us understand an environment that is, in its very essence, distant, foreign and unfamiliar. Claire believes that we only protect what we know and love. She therefore seeks to create an emotional connection between everyone and this strange environment.

Claire set up BLOOM to serve as a cornerstone of all her marine education and advocacy projects. She decided to tell the rest of the world about the deep sea, in the form of a book and an exhibition entitled The Deep.

As soon as Nicolas Sarkozy was elected, she sent him her book insisting on the detrimental role of the French industrial fishing sector in the destruction of fragile deep-sea ecosystems. She was invited to deliver a speech in 2008 during an official French presidential visit to the Prince of Monaco. Her address was stark and powerful and thus won her a special position to influence the President’s environmental agenda.

She convinced Sarkozy’s Minister of Ecology Jean-Louis Borloo to adopt the “20% by 2020” objective of Marine Protected Areas during the 2009 multi stakeholder consultation on the ocean called the “Grenelle de la Mer”. The objective was adopted in July 2009. BLOOM is now appealing to the French government on the weak implementation of “truly” protected areas, picking up the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) combat where slack public will left it.

During the Grenelle Conference, she also put a ban on deep-sea bottom trawling on the agenda but the French industrial sector went up in arms against it. It marked the beginning of a long, difficult battle against industrial trawlers supported by French authorities which Claire, with the help of Matthew Gianni, eventually won.

In June 2016, after seven years of restless fight (listen to Claire’s Goldman Environmental Prize acceptance speech) BLOOM won, in a close and long-standing collaboration with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition and the Pew Charitable Trusts, the total ban of deep-sea bottom trawling below 800 m. of depth, in the whole of Europe.

In 2009, she simultaneously opened an office in Hong Kong to focus on shark conservation. As a member of the coalition ‘Shark Alliance’, BLOOM helped with the successful campaign to ban shark finning in Europe by putting an end to the derogations given to Spanish and Portuguese fishing vessels. In parallel, BLOOM launched a powerful Hong Kong campaign which decided a majority of leading hotel chains to stop serving shark fins internationally.

A combination of urgent fights and long-term transformations

BLOOM has since decided to fight the ‘necessary’: the urgent need to ban destructive fishing gears which damage the ocean’s habitats and biodiversityon a daily basis as well as ‘the indispensable’: the long-term transformation of high-impact fishing methods which have appalling consequences on the Earth’s biodiveristy and climate.

After the long deep-sea battle was won, Claire and BLOOM embarked on another overarching fight against the destruction of the ocean and fishers: electric fishing. In January 2018, small-scale fishers and BLOOM managed to win an important vote in the European Parliament, which decided that all electric current to catch fish should be banned. The fight is ongoing as industrial fishing lobbies from the Netherlands and elsewhere all have a particular interest in this technological development that allows to save bottom trawling from bankruptcy.

Over the years, Claire focused BLOOM on the structural issue of fisheries subsidies as they form a powerful financial driver of the ocean’s destruction. As soon as 2008, Claire supported OCEANA’s efforts at the World Trade Organization to adopt a multilateral ban on harmful fisheries subsidies. In 2017, BLOOM was the only NGO pleading in favor of such a ban at the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, coming close to the adoption of a partial deal. On 17 June 2022, after more than 20 years of negotiation, the WTO finally adopted a first set of disciplines on fisheries subsidies.

Recent victories

On 12 July 2022, BLOOM closely won a vote in the biased Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament and managed to secure a ban on demersal seining (called ‘fly-shooting’ in the UK), a new destructive technological development by the Dutch fishing industry. This vote now needs to be adopted in Trilogue by the Council and Commission.

On 30 June 2022, at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, BLOOM’s post denouncing the French President’s position in favor of an environmental catastrophy, deep-sea mining, went viral with millions of views in just a few hours. As a result, Emmanuel Macron announced a complete change of positions and his support for a ban on deep-sea mining on the High Seas!

Biography

Claire Nouvian is president and founder of the nonprofit conservation organization BLOOM, based in Paris and Hong Kong. Her research and activities focus on deep-sea fisheries and shark consumption habits. In Asia, Nouvian and BLOOM’s co-workers aim to improve the degraded conservation status of shark populations by ultimately making shark fin soup a socially unacceptable dish. Nouvian’s approach is designed to make corporations act as trend-setters in society, specifically the luxury segment of the hospitality industry, andto make the banning of shark dishes part of corporate policy. In Europe, Nouvian is dedicated to studying the nature of deep-sea fishing. Her work on this topic has included the organization of a press conference and “science tour” of political entities, a scientific workshop on deep-sea fisheries in an ecosystem-based context, and a legal workshop on deep-sea bottom trawling. She conducted a detailed analysis on the few remaining deep-sea fishing companies in France to reveal that despite receiving substantial public subsidies, the three main fleet owners are chronically unprofitable. While producing this analysis, Nouvian identified public aid to French fisheries as an area worthy of in-depth research and increased transparency.

Before starting BLOOM, Nouvian worked in television production and journalism, specializing in wildlife and scientific documentaries. She spent an extended period filming in the jungles of Asia, Africa, and South America and eventually contracted two tropical diseases. Luckily Nouvian had already discovered a fascination with the deep sea. Her convalescence allowed her to craft a book, The Deep, published in 2006, and an exhibition of the same name, opened in 2007 at the Natural History Museum in Paris, which present the best specimens, pictures, and film clips that have been gathered by oceanographers over the past 20-25 years.

Today, the exhibition and book have reached more than a billion people. Additionally, Nouvian is involved with education through art and science projects engaging students. She lectures on deep-sea fisheries, fisheries negotiations, public fisheries subsidies, and sustainable development communication strategy at several universities including University of Geneva, Sciences Po (Public Affairs and Environmental Diplomacy), AgroParisTech/ENGREF, University of Hong Kong, University of Rhode Island, and University of Zagreb. While wonder drew her to the depths of the ocean, finding out about deep-sea fishing prompted Nouvian to focus on combating destructive fishing practices. She developed BLOOM as a base to put an end to deep-sea bottom trawling and advocate before governments and institutions in favor of the protection of the ocean’s depths. Nouvian holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Sorbonne University in Paris.

Read her portrait in French: Portrait d’une militante de l’écologie politique. Entretien avec Claire Nouvian, Propos recueillis par Pierre-Louis Choquet, dans Études 2019/1 (Janvier), pages 63 à 72.

Professional Experience

  • 2012 – Present: Honorary Board Chair of BLOOM
  • 2005 – 2012: Board Chair of the non-profit organization BLOOM in Paris and Founder of BLOOM Hong Kong
  • 2007 – Present: Political and corporate advocacy, independent research, public awareness, education, lecturing (The University of Geneva, The Paris Political Science Institute – Sciences Po, The Paris Institute of Technology for Life, Food and Environmental Sciences – AgroParisTech).
  • 2007 – Present: Curator of the exhibition The Deep at the Natural History Museum in Paris (followed by an ongoing international tour of the exhibition).
  • 2008: Photographed and wrote a monograph about the artist Claire Basler, EFE Editions
  • 2006: Author of the book The Deep (Fayard, France / University of Chicago Press, USA with subsequent translations into 8 languages).
  • 2006: Curator of the art exhibition showing the work of Claire Basler at the Bank of China in Hong Kong (part of the “French May” Festival). She also wrote and photographed the artist’s work for the Claire Basler’s catalogue of paintings.
  • 2002 – 2004: Freelance TV Director & Writer (3 films).
  • 1998 – 2002: TV Producer, Executive Producer & Production Coordinator for Télé Images Nature production company (13 films).
  • 1995 – 1998: Freelance Journalist & Journalist Assistant mainly for German press & media.

Education

University of Paris IV Sorbonne (1995-96), B.A in History
Liberal Arts preparatory class (Hypokhâgne / Khâgne) in Lyon (1992-94)

Languages

French, English, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin & German

Public Outreach

  • 2012/13: Launch of the competition “Poulpe Fiction” with the associations “Les Atomes Crochus” and “Synlab”.
  • 2012 – Present: BLOOM is on the jury of Sciences Po “Prix de l’Engagement”.
  • 2011 – Present: BLOOM is a member of the Educational Advisory Committee of Ocean Park, a leisure marine-park created in Hong Kong in 1977 which recieves around 5 million visitors per year.
  • 2010 – Present: Art/Science high school contests on the deep ocean in France “2000 Meters Below the Sea” (collaboration with the NGO “Les Atomes Crochus”).
  • 2009 – Present: With the association “Et Demain”, BLOOM co-produced a musical puppet show “”Dernières Nouvelles de la Mer” which demonstrated the problems of overfishing, degrading ecosystems, unsustainable consumption habits, the mess that is by-catch and discards, the extinction of species, the destruction of habits and, importantly, the solutions!
  • 2009: Show called “I Hear the Sea” for the MEEDDM, a co-production between BLOOM & “Et Demain” in partnership with Océanopolis.
  • 2007 – Present: Exhibition The Deep travelled to 7 countries, over 1.5 million visitors.
  • 2006 – Present: Book The Deep published in 10 languages, over 150 000 copies printed.

Prizes & awards

Personal Prizes

  • Goldman Environmental Prize, 2018
  • Environmental Award by “Positive Planet” (Jacques Attali’s group), Dec. 2015
  • “Committed Women” Award (Mondadori / Yves Rocher), Oct. 2015
  • Ashoka Fellow, Oct. 2014
  • Medal of the National Merit, May 2013
  • “Environmental Woman of the Year” in the 2012 “Femmes en Or” awards

Prizes for the book “The Deep”

  • Prize for the world’s best book with underwater images/ special mention by the jury, Antibes International Festival for Underwater Images, October 2006
  • Marine Acadaemy’s prize for “Best Book”, French Ministry of Defence, 2007
  • “Wissenschaftsbuch des Jahres” Prize (Scientific book of the year), November 2007
  • “Circle of the Sea” Prize, November 2007
  • Selection in the “Best Books for Young Adults” category by the American Library Association

Prizes for Documentaries

  • Prize for best adventure documentary at “Festival Mondial du Film d’Aventure Amazonas” in Brazil (Manaus, Brazil, November 2005) for the film “Expedition in the Deep-Sea” (Ex Nihilo / Arte / Ifremer / Science Channel)
  • First prize in the “Pariscience” Festival (October 2005) for “Océanautes” (Ex Nihilo / Arte / Ifremer)
  • Silver Anchor Prize and François de Roubaix Prize (for Best Film) at the 34th International Maritime Film Festival in Toulon (October 2002) and “Palme de bronze” at the 29th International Festival of Underwater Pictures in Antibes (November 2002) for “A Night Under the Sea” (Télé Images Nature / France 2 / Discovery Channel)

Publications

  •  Find on “Research gate” an updated list of Claire Nouvian’s 16 scientific publications
  • The Market for Shark Liver Oil and Squalene with Romain Chabrol.
  • Europe’s Reduction Fisheries – Megan Bailey and Claire Nouvian.
  • Shark consumption habits and attitudes in Hong Kong – Kwok Ho Shea, Jennifer Jacquet, Isabel Jarrett, Claire Nouvian, 2011
  • The Ecological and Socio-Economic Profile of Deep-Sea Fisheries – Claire Nouvian, in collaboration with L. Watling & D. Berger, May 2011.
  • Fish Consumption in School Canteens: Do our children eat at-risk fish species? – Victoire Guilloneau and Claire Nouvian, May 2011.
  • Can Ecosystem-Based Deep-Sea Fishing Be Sustained? – Report of a workshop held 31 August – 3 September, 2010, Neuville-Bosc, France. L. Watling, R.L. Haedrich, J. Devine, J. Drazen, M.R. Dunn, M. Gianni, K. Baker, G. Cailliet, I. Figueiredo, P.M. Kyne, G. Menezes, F. Neat, A. Orlov, P. Duran, J.A. Perez, J.A. Ardron, J. Bezaury, C. Revenga, C. Nouvian. May 2011, University of Maine, Darling Marine Center Special Publication 11-1.

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