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Celebrating women in conservation: Michele Kuruc

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“The oceans give us food, recreation, transport, and climate but humanity has treated them more like a garbage dump than the life-giving force that they are. We need to protect them to protect us.”

Michele Kuruc
Vice President, Oceans Policy

What I do for nature

As the vice president of ocean policy at WWF, I find my work is interesting, fast-paced and fulfilling. No two days are alike. I collaborate with everyone from high-level lawmakers to small coastal communities to find solutions to some of the toughest marine conservation problems. I log many miles traveling on ocean business. My work stretches from the Arctic to the Antarctic, covering all ocean life and those who depend on it. I touch on everything from large cruise ships to wooden fishing canoes, and members of the United Nations to local fishers.

Why I do it

Our oceans play a key role in our planet’s health, but they have received scant attention for a long time. That is starting to change and I’m working to transform the national and global policies that touch on these valuable resources. One area of my current work involves keeping illegal fish out of the American market.

Many people don’t really think about where their fish comes from or how it gets to the market. They see a piece of fish in a Styrofoam container or a whole fish in the store and they trust that our government has ensured that their food supply has been harvested legally. But in many places, including the US, we can’t assume that. Our nation imports 90 percent of our fish and it comes from more than 100 different countries. But global fisheries have been weakly regulated for many years and enforcement on the oceans isn’t easy. The marine environment is a challenging and remote place—and it’s easy to hide all sorts of wrongdoing out there. Illegal fishing causes serious economic, environmental and social problems. I’m trained as a lawyer and used to prosecute all sorts of fascinating fisheries cases for the US. That experience helps me contribute to the Presidential Task Force on illegal fishing and try to end these problems.