SALT LAKE CITY — Speaking to a full room at the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, humanitarian activist Danny Quintana announced the launch of global education campaign to save the ocean’s wildlife on Wednesday.
The attorney and U. graduate hopes to make Salt Lake City a sustainable seafood city, an ambitious goal that includes curbing all seafood imports from countries outside of North America.
Interior U.S. cities like Salt Lake City are contributing to the oceans’ loss of biodiversity by importing commercially caught seafood from countries guilty of overfishing, according to Quintana.
His goal relies on a targeted education campaign, informing Salt Lake City residents on the consequences of overfishing and the importance of supporting American fisheries.
Four years ago, Quintana was surfing the web when he came across a bleak statistic — half of the oceans’ wildlife is gone. “The hair stood up on the back of my neck,” said Quintana, who was inspired to start his nonprofit Saving Oceans. With an office in West Valley City, volunteers with Saving Oceans can go into Utah’s public schools and teach classes focused on the importance of eating sustainably caught seafood.
Quintana has been an activist his whole life, protesting nuclear proliferation as a teenager and later working with the Mobility Project, distributing wheelchairs to impoverished communities around the world. He received a letter from former President Barack Obama for his book “Space and Ocean Exploration: The Alternative to the Military Industrial Complex.”
Quintana’s long-term hope is to create a global high seas marine preserve, banning industrial commercial fishing in 70 percent of the ocean.
“It’s like the Wild West out there,” said Quintana, who argued that trawling, a commercial fishing tactic that indiscriminately catches fish in nets the size of football fields, is a primary culprit in the massive loss of the oceans’ biodiversity.
But for now, Saving Oceans is focused on education. With partners in 39 countries, Quintana hopes to build a global culture of sustainability.
“If we don’t get out and act then nothing will happen,” he said.