Ocean Heroes Spotlight

Collaboration and Camaraderie to Combat Plastic Pollution

January 11, 2021

From Ocean Hero Robbie Bond:

I love the Ocean and I think kids are the best voice to stand up for the Ocean because our generation will experience the consequences of using single-use plastic long into our future. Ocean Heroes Bootcamp has not only inspired me, but has enabled me to meet other youth from all over the world that I would have never had the opportunity to meet if I had not attended!

I was born and raised on the island of Oahu in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. I am a 3 year alumnus of Ocean Heroes Bootcamp (OHBC). In June of 2018 when I was 10 years old, I attended my first Ocean Heroes Bootcamp in New Orleans Louisiana. It was so amazing and inspirational to meet kids from all over the world that love the ocean as much as I do. This was my first experience collaborating with other youth activists.

L to R: Ocean Heroes Carter Ries, Liam Burns, Sophia Albelita, Robbie Bond, and Olivia Ries at the 2018 Bootcamp in New Orleans

The highlight of OHBC 2018 was the opportunity for me and my new Ocean Hero friends to share our campaigns virtually with the G7 summit leadership team and encourage world leaders to join us in the fight against plastic pollution! After OHBC, I was able to invite one of the friends I met, Hannah Testa and founder of Hannah4Change, to my home state of Hawaii to participate with me and two other Ocean Heroes on a beach cleanup. We also filmed footage for my first Virtual Reality Video on Plastic Pollution that will be released in early 2021! The Video will be available free for everyone to view on Google Expedition and hopefully on Oculus Quest 2.

In the summer of 2019, I had the honor and privilege of attending the second annual OHBC in Vancouver held on the campus of the University of British Columbia. Over 250 kids from 20 different countries attended OHBC that summer. I was so excited to reunite with friends that I had made from my first year at OHBC to see how their campaigns were going. In Vancouver, I met Diego, the founder of Green Speaking from Mexico City and we quickly became friends.  

L to R: Hannah Testa, Illimani Mendoza-Mayrs, Diego Arreola Fernandez, and Robbie Bond at the 2019 Bootcamp in Vancouver

Due to the pandemic, OHBC in the summer of 2020 was virtual, but it was still such an amazing experience that enabled me to meet more kid ocean lovers and activists from around the world.  A few months after the OHvBC, the Ocean Heroes Network announced they would pay the entry fee for the first three teams to enter the Conrad Challenge. The Conrad Challenge is a global youth design competition for students ages 13-18 to create real world solutions to real world problems. This year, one of those problems is… Ocean: The Plastic Problem. I was so excited when Diego Arreola reached out to me and invited me to join his team composed of 4 other Ocean Heroes from 4 other countries!  Diego, our team captain, is from Mexico City, Mexico, Manar Elkebir is from Gabes, Tunisia, John Abad is from Lima, Peru and Lakshika Khurana is from New Delhi, India. It has been so awesome to hear different perspectives from other Ocean Heroes from all over the world on the issues their countries face when it comes to finding solutions for ending plastic pollution in our oceans.  

L to R: Hannah Testa, Robbie Bond, and Maverick Robbins at a beach cleanup

As Ocean Heroes, we were inspired by each other's work and passion for the Ocean and we decided to join forces to address the global issue of ghost fishing nets and gear and its impact on marine life. That is why we formed the “Ghost Net Busters” for our Conrad Challenge team.  The past few months we have been meeting several times a week to come up with a plan to combat ghost fishing nets because according to a study from Duke University, each year 308,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises are killed because of derelict fishing gear.

We envision a world in which the fishing industry is responsible and sustainable; a world in which no nets or fishing gear becomes derelict. We envision a healthy and precious ocean, respected and guarded by everyone. We are the Ghost Net Busters and we want the fishing industry to transition towards a more sustainable and brighter future, and we will strive to accomplish it!

I look forward to Ocean Heroes Boot Camp 2021 (hopefully in person) to meet up with my friends and make new friends! I intend to take every opportunity to collaborate with other Ocean Heroes because the experience is invaluable and fun! I recommend you do the same!