Meet the WildAid Marine Team: Gregg Casad

June 22, 2021; Interview by Mary Pantenburg, WildAid Marine Intern
This interview was adjusted for clarity.

Earlier this spring, we sat down with Gregg Casad, WildAid Marine’s Senior Compliance Advisor, to discuss his work as the liaison between WildAid Marine and on-the-ground partners around the world.

 Gregg Casad, Senior Compliance Advisor
Through his work with WildAid Marine, Gregg has had the opportunity to work directly with enforcement teams, fishers, and coastal communities in The Bahamas, Gabon, and Tanzania to build capacity for effective marine enforcement and management. Gregg has seen firsthand how vital a healthy ocean is to the communities who depend on it for their livelihoods and sees strong enforcement as an essential strategy for protecting our oceans. Throughout the year, Gregg maintains contact with our on-the-ground partners, providing guidance, reevaluating the needs of marine areas, and crafting plans for future action. This form of high-touch partnership is what allows WildAid Marine to help communities and governments protect their resources for years to come.

What do you do for WildAid Marine?
Whatever Meaghan, our Marine Program Director, tells me to! More seriously, I am WildAid Marine’s Senior Compliance Advisor supporting the organization’s projects in The Bahamas, Gabon, and Zanzibar, Tanzania. In addition, I am responsible for providing oversight of the Program Managers and law enforcement experts on WildAid Marine’s projects outside of Central and South America. I’m also leading WildAid Marine’s engagement with organizations looking to use satellite monitoring to promote and enhance compliance, for example, Global Fishing Watch and Vulcan’s Skylight.

Gregg representing WildAid Marine in The Bahamas.

What first got you interested in oceans? Was it a documentary? A book? A friend?
As a high schooler, I knew I wanted to serve in the U.S. military. After looking at each of the branches, the U.S. Coast Guard’s mission to save lives and stop the flow of illegal drugs resonated. I found my passion for fisheries when I was stationed in Oregon and worked with commercial and recreational fishing vessels in the North Pacific Ocean.

 How did your career in conservation start?
While best known for their search and rescue operations, the Coast Guard has a strong conservation mission related to ocean stewardship. My experiences as a law enforcement officer and later as a policy advisor provided me with opportunities to appreciate coastal communities and those who go to sea.

What is one thing about your job or the work you do that might surprise people?
Our oceans are vast, but the marine conservation community is relatively small, and it’s even smaller as you focus on compliance and enforcement. The work WildAid Marine does is relatively niche in the conservation world, as enforcement strategies are harder to develop than traditional methods of MPA management.

Gregg working with rangers in Gabon.

What gives you hope for the future of our oceans?
The growing acknowledgment of the critical role artisanal and nearshore fishing plays in supporting coastal communities gives me hope. I feel encouraged when coastal nations take affirmative steps to understand the relationships between their citizens, their coastal communities, their blue economy, and the sea.

If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
Don’t lose sleep over it, you’re on the right path. Keep going, it’s going to be worth it! I stressed about my career a lot when I was younger, and that did not help. Work hard, but try to have fun along the way.

What is the best advice for young people trying to go into conservation?
I’m always telling my daughter that pursuing your passion will lead to rewarding experiences, personally and professionally. More specifically, I’d tell individuals interested in marine conservation that their experiences in the field will pay dividends, so seek out those supporting efforts at the source. A degree is great, but the experience is where the majority of your learning will occur.