Mark first dived on coral reefs aged 11, and since then has visited or worked on these ecosystems worldwide, with a strong focus on the oceanic islands of the Indian Ocean. In the early 1990s, Mark joined the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, where he compiled the first ever detailed maps of coral reefs and mangrove forests. Building on these maps he worked with partners around the world to track both threats and conservation efforts. The Reefs at Risk publications, dating back to 1998, were among the first to raise global attention to the plight of these critical ecosystems. By contrast, Mark’s work tracking the growth of marine protected areas has highlighted the considerable conservation advances that have been made, particularly in the last ten years.
Mark is cautiously optimistic that we will overcome the slew of problems facing the ocean, and he believes that technology may play a critical role in this process. His ongoing work with The Nature Conservancy, involves high resolution global mapping of the value of nature to people, and is helping to engage new audiences to strengthen the demand for action. Additionally, his work as an Advisor to the Government of the British Indian Ocean Territory has bought him into contact with the challenges of protecting even the remotest oceans. While the challenge of halting illegal fishing seemed impossible just a few years ago, today the tables are turning.