James Blunt lives for part of the year he spends in Ibiza. The singer — best-known for his hit “You’re Beautiful,” and more recently for his hilarious presence on Twitter— grew up on Cyprus where his dad was in the military, and has always been close to the sea. But the idyllic island he calls home is under siege.
Last summer, crowds gathered on the beach at Ibiza’s Cala d’Hort, famous for its view of the cloud-topped island of Es Vedra in the bay. (You have probably seen it on Instagram or in a movie.) But in 2018, no one could go into the water. Sunbathers gathered on the sand but did not enter the crystal-clear sea. They stood at the water’s edge, warning their children to stay out.
Cala d’Hort was surrounded by huge swarms of red jellyfish. If they touch you, it’s like being stung by a wasp, and they leave a painful, curved scar on your skin that lasts for weeks. Several beaches on the island were unswimmable due to the out-of-control jellyfish population.
The reason? The fish that eat jellyfish have mostly been killed. By us.
The Mediterranean was once Europe’s equivalent of the Great Barrier Reef, as far as fish are concerned. For decades, from Greece to Southern France, honeymooners ate at dockside restaurants watching huge schools of fish swimming just beyond their ankles. But most of those fish are now gone.
Just 10 years ago, a jellyfish was a rare sight on Ibiza. Today you are more likely to see a jellyfish than a dreamfish, the yellow-and-silver porgy that snorkelers see hugging the rocks at the edge of Ibizan beaches.
According to the EU, 90% of the Med’s fish stocks have been over-exploited — meaning that the larger fish have been taken, leaving behind diminutive specimens who may not be old or numerous enough to sustain their populations.
The Med used to be home to Atlantic bluefin tuna, an astonishing beast that can live for 40 years and grow up to 900 kg in weight (2,000 lbs).
Tuna eat jellyfish.
But most of the large tuna are gone from the Med. We have turned them into canned sandwich meat and sushi. And the toxic, inedible, Pelagia Noctiluca jellyfish have bloomed in their place. Their presence is now so threatening to Mediterranean beaches that several websites track their blooms.
Business Insider learned all this because we asked singer James what he would do if he was the editor of Business Insider for a day. What issues are close to his heart? What stories does he feel the media is ignoring?
We gave him free rein to assign our reporters any story he wanted. Each story was James’ idea, and each one has been reported independently by Business Insider staff. You can read them all via the links below.
James chose to assign a package on the fate of the world’s oceans. (He is also an ambassador for the Blue Marine Foundation — a charity that works for the preservation and management of ocean wildlife.) We present them here as part of Business Insider’s ongoing campaign for “Better Capitalism.”
We think James’ assignments are both counterintuitive and vital: It’s not news that we’re killing our oceans. But most people aren’t aware of the specific ways we’re doing it. You’re probably not aware of “pulse” fishing, in which trawlers electrocute vast areas of the ocean, killing everything, and sweep up the mess. You may never have heard of the wolffish, either. It’s a species we are driving to extinction by accident — and no one cares because the wolffish is extremely ugly.
If you want to know more about the work of the Blue Marine Foundation — which campaigns for areas of the ocean to be off-limits to fishing — visit their website.
Here are all the stories James Blunt asked us to write:
This article is part of a collaboration with James Blunt and the marine conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation. The charity is dedicated to creating marine reserves and establishing sustainable models of fishing, with a mission to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. To find out more visit www.bluemarinefoundation.com