World Oceans Day 2021: Natalie Miaoulis

June 3rd, 2021; This interview was conducted via email and edited for clarity.

Since 2018, WildAid Marine has been working alongside The Nature Conservancy, The Bahamas Department of Marine Resources, and other Bahamian government agencies to strengthen the capacity of local marine enforcement agencies. To understand the importance of this work, we invite you to join us on a virtual trip to The Bahamas. We’ll meet community members, fishers, and ocean advocates who depend on the ocean for their livelihoods and whose stories highlight the need for strong enforcement and smart marine resource management. In honor of World Oceans Day, please join us in raising critical funds to support the implementation of the Marine Action Partnership for Sustainable Fisheries in The Bahamas.

My name is Natalie Miaoulis and I live in New Providence, The Bahamas. 

What do you do for a living?
I work as a Fisheries Specialist with The Nature Conservancy’s Northern Caribbean Program. 

How did you get started with this work?
Growing up in The Bahamas, I was surrounded by the sea. I had family who were fishermen, so I have memories of them spending long days on the water. My love for the communities like the one I grew up in, where people depend on fishing for food and livelihoods—this has fueled my passion to work for a sustainable future for our oceans and fisheries. 

What do you love most about your job?
The opportunity to work directly with fishers and communities to help improve lives and livelihoods by guiding fishery management decisions. It’s very rewarding to know that I’m learning from these communities at the same time that I’m sharing knowledge and sustainable practices, so that we’re creating positive impacts together. 

What is one of the most challenging parts of your job?
Reaching communities across the expanse of our archipelago is a significant challenge. With the largest EEZ in the region—made up of 700 islands—it’s hard to connect with all the communities as much as I wish we could. 

In what ways do your job and livelihood depend on a healthy ocean?
I work every day to help ensure that fishers have a healthy ocean they can depend on to support themselves and their families and that the ocean can continue to sustain local communities and economies, while also bringing joy to so many people who live in and visit our beautiful country. 

In what other ways do you depend on a healthy ocean?
My husband is a captain and we have many commercial fishers in our family, so we depend on a healthy ocean to sustain our careers and livelihoods. 

What does the ocean mean to you?
From a young age, I have always loved exploring the ocean and fishing.  The oceans signify the connection that we humans have to nature, the dependency we have on it for health, income, and culture, and the duty we have to ensure that we are good stewards of our ocean resources for future generations. 

What worries you most about the future of our oceans?
Around the globe, I think there needs to be much more sharing of information, enforcement, and monitoring for effective fisheries management, in order to protect and restore our oceans in ways that have a lasting impact. 

What gives you hope for the future of our oceans?
The fishers and others who depend on marine resources for a way of life give me hope. Their passion, concern, and advocacy for the ocean are what give me hope for future generations. And the positive changes that The Nature Conservancy has been able to implement by working with fishers and communities—when I see that a meaningful difference has been made for people who depend on the ocean, I feel hopeful about the future.