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 / Co-Founder OceansAsia
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 31 years where he has worked as a professional photographer and diving instructor. His images have been used in most major news agencies and publications. He became an effective ocean advocate and follows a ‘no-compromise’ approach when it comes to those inflicting harm on the marine ecosystems.
Gary has spent the past twenty years investigating and exposing the shark fin industry, gaining international media coverage as being featuring in both ‘SEASPIRACY’ and more recently Eli Roth’s ‘FIN’. When not exposing the shark fin industry, he can be found investigating shipping routes for transnational wildlife crimes or on a beach analyzing marine debris to better understand the plastic pollution crisis. He has recently been developing OceansAsia’s latest project, Ocean CSI: to enable beachgoers to start investigating the sources of debris with an aim to close down the source. Gary’s work was also featured in the award winning documentary ‘A Plastic Ocean’.
Gary is our lead field operative, conducting investigations around the South East Asia region. Gary has also been invited to present at several leading international conferences such as the International Whaling Convention and CITES as well as with regional governmental agencies.
Time Zone: GMT
DR. TEALE N. PHELPS BONDAROFF
Director of Research / Co-Founder OceansAsia
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 -
RESEARCHer and NGOTF Representative
Felix is a sociology student studying at the University of Victoria (UVic) with an interest in how ecological and social systems interact, relate, and impact one another. His research interest centers on how corporate and state interests affects fisheries management decision-making and socioeconomic equity in fishing communities. With OceansAsia, he has studied illegal sea cucumber fishing in both the Mexican and global context, and shark cartilage health scams. Outside of OceansAsia, he has worked on transparency, sustainability, and economic issues in British Columbia’s groundfish trawler fishery. He is OceanAsia’s representative to the Non-Governmental Organization Tuna Forum (NGOTF). Felix is based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada where he enjoys taking photos of local great blue herons.
NIVEDITA TANKSALI -
VANESSA ULTRERAS -
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 along the coast of Mexico. Vanessa is helping OceansAsia explore connections between marine wildlife exploitation in Mexico and S.E. Asian markets.
Veronica Chang -
Veronica is a senior at Burlington High School in Massachusetts, USA. As someone who is passionate about environmental sustainability, she created a GoFundMe to not only raise awareness for increased ocean pollution as a result of COVID-19 disposable face masks, but also to fund OceansAsia’s beach cleanups in the Sokos islands. In addition to sustainability, she is also interested in wildlife crime, specifically the poaching and smuggling of underrated creatures like sea cucumbers. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, playing the ukulele, and spending time with friends.