After decades of working in marine conservation, co-founders Gary Stokes and Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff combined their complementary skills to form OceansAsia in 2019. Gary, a professional photographer and diving instructor, previously served as the Director of Sea Shepherd Asia, and was the founder of Oceanic Love. He honed his skills as an investigator over the course of nearly two decades of investigating and exposing the shark fin industry.
Teale is a professional researcher and academic, whose work focuses on illegal fishing and the strategic use of law by non-state actors. Through his consultancy, The Idea Tree, he has consulted with numerous conservation organizations on a wide range of issues.
Their complementary skills combine to help deliver the intelligence-based conservation model of OceansAsia.
Director of Operations
Born in the UK, Gary was raised in the Mediterranean, where his love affair with the ocean first formed. He has been living in Asia for the past 29 years where he has worked as a professional photographer and diving instructor. He has become an effective ocean advocate due to his ‘no-compromise’ approach. Gary previously held the position of Asia Director for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a position he held for the past 5 years.
Gary has spent the past twenty years investigating and exposing the shark fin industry, gaining international media coverage for the cause, as well as working with airlines and shipping lines to investigate and shut down shark fin shipping routes. When not exposing the shark fin industry, he can be found investigating shipping routes for possible transnational wildlife crimes or on a beach analysing trash to better understand the plastic pollution crisis.
Gary is our lead field operative, conducting investigations around the South East Asia region.
Time Zone: GMT+8
DR. TEALE N. PHELPS BONDAROFF
Director of Research
A world expert in illegal fishing, Dr. Phelps Bondaroff’s work has played a central role in efforts to redefine illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing as fish crime; a process required to transform this previously administrative crime into a serious crime. Dr. Phelps Bondaroff conducts a wide range of research both as an independent academic scholar, as well as through his strategy and research consultancy, The Idea Tree.
The principle focus of Dr. Phelps Bondaroff’s academic research is the strategic use of international law by non-state actors. His research has also examined such topics as marine debris, derelict fishing gear, and oceanic plastics; human trafficking, slavery and labour violations in the fishing industry; Greenland halibut, whale, and krill conservation. He has worked with groups such as the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, World Animal Protection, The Black Fish, The Sea Ranger Service, and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime.
He has a PhD in politics and international studies from the University of Cambridge, and BAs in political science and international relations from the University of Calgary. Dr. Phelps Bondaroff is based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, where in addition to his work in marine conservation and research, he coaches high school debate, is an avid placemaker, and is active in Canadian politics.
Time Zone: Pacific Standard Time (GMT-8)
DR. FRANCESCA SANTANIELLO - RESEARCH ASSOCIATE
Francesca is a conservation scientist, with over ten years experience in environmental monitoring and sustainability. With a background in natural sciences, she started her career with an internship at the European Space Agency (ESA), using remote sensing applications to map and monitor illegal logging in boreal forests. In 2017 she obtained a Doctoral degree in Conservation Biology, at the Faculty of Forest Science of the Swedish University of Agricultural Science, presenting a thesis about sustainable forestry and climate change mitigation strategies. Her focus has always been on biodiversity conservation, investigating the impact of human activities on both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. During the last years she joined numerous missions dedicated to the conservation of endangered species. From the forests of Laos PDR to the waters of Mexico and Gabon, she was on the frontline to fight wildlife crimes and promoting law enforcement. She loves to be in the field, possibly navigating at sea in extreme weather conditions and she doesn’t like coriander. She is now fully dedicated to hamper IUU-fishing and illicit supply chains.
SAM COOKE - RESEARCH ASSOCIATE
Sam is an MSc graduate from the University of Edinburgh specializing in Ecological Economics. Sam holds a BA from Eckerd College in Environmental Studies and a joint master’s degree from the Scottish Rural Colleges (SRUC) and the University of Edinburgh. Alongside the work Sam has conducted for OceansAsia he has done work for both the UK-China Low Carbon Institute and the Asian Development Bank. Work for both these organizations focused on the role of climate financing, especially on topics such as additionality, green bonds, and carbon capture (CCS) with his master’s dissertation on the role of Carbon Capture and Storage technology in China. Sam has worked in and around a variety of environmental/sustainability sectors having conducted fieldwork in the UK, China, the Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and South Africa. Sam’s previous work experience is equally as varied working as a Chinese tutor, sailing instructor, scuba diving instructor and deckhand on board a tall ship. When not stuck in lockdown he is happiest ever on the water sailing or underwater scuba diving.
FELIX MORROW - RESEARCH ASSISTANT
Felix is a student at the University of Victoria, where he is studying political science and sociology. He has an academic interest in Canadian governance, electoral politics, social inequality, and climate change. He is actively engaged in both BC provincial and Canadian national politics, door knocking in two recent Canadian elections. Outside of elections, Felix has been active in protesting against an environmentally dangerous pipeline, and international student tuition hikes. Beyond politics, Felix is an active person who occasionally fences, and enjoys hiking.
NIVEDITA TANKSALI - RESEARCH ASSISTANT
VANESSA ULTRERAS - RESEARCH ASSISTANT
Vanessa Ultreras is a Pharmacobiologist Chemist with a specialty in food safety from Morelia Michoacán, Mexico. She currently works as an advisor on food safety projects. She teaches chemistry, biology, microbiology and waste management, and through her teaching promotes strategies to raise awareness in the community about the better management of natural resources. As a food chemist, she has been able to explore the possibilities around making our diets more sustainable, and thereby helping to protect our planet. She developed a passion for sea life, especially whales, from her travels long the coast of Mexico. Vanessa is helping OceansAsia explore connections between marine wildlife exploitation in Mexico and S.E. Asian markets.