Team photo 2014


Wietse van der Werf

This is a news item imageFounder, International Director – Wietse’s decision to start The Black Fish with others was easily made after spending considerable time at sea and witnessing the destruction of marine habitats and wildlife first hand. “We realised so much more needed to happen to protect sea life adequately and with The Black Fish we are looking at effective ways to do so, while at the same time inspiring and supporting ordinary people in the protection of their own local environment”. Wietse has written extensively on the impacts of industrial and illegal fishing and works on a number of ongoing investigations to expose fraud and crime within the fishing industry. Within The Black Fish he is involved in campaign preparations, fundraising and acting as its spokesperson.

Follow Wietse on Facebook and Twitter

Evangelia Dedes

This is a news item imageOffice Administrator – Evangelia has always felt passionately in support for animal rights and the marine environment. Her activist days began in earnest whilst at Brighton in 2008, she became involved in various grassroots organisations and political campaigns. When not campaigning Evangelia spent her time writing articles for a direct action newsletter, cooking vegan roasts or playing records at punk gigs. “Growing up in the Greek port city of Piraeus, spending my summers on an island and having a Sea Captain as a father has given me a strong affinity with the sea. I’d been wanting to get more actively involved with marine conservation. I found out about The Black Fish soon after doing my competent crew course in June 2011 with the Sail Boat Project. Marine conservation has become unparalleled in terms of the need to act given the magnitude of the damage caused thus far and the little time left to act within; the oceans have become a time-bomb”.

Matty Mitford

This is a news item imageInternational Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator – Matty is a committed environmentalist who has dedicated most of her working life to politics and activism. She has supported and trained volunteers in a diverse range of organisations and most recently as Campaigns Coordinator for the Green Party of England and Wales. “I firmly believe that a successful campaign cannot exist without strong, well-resourced volunteers and has always loved interacting with these committed, passionate people and watching the successes they generate.” Matty grew up around boats and watched the changing marine environment throughout her life until she could no longer ignore the evident destruction, compelling her to leave her home in London and move to Amsterdam to work with The Black Fish.

Interested in volunteering? Get in contact with Matty.

Samantha Hook

This is a news item imageCitizen Inspector Network Coordinator – Growing up in Manchester, UK, Samantha recently qualified with a Masters degree in molecular conservation. She first became passionate about illegal fishing when conducting research on mislabelled seafood, in particular swordfish. She has previously worked as a manatee biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and feels after multiple years of education her heart belongs to active marine conservation. “I have always been in love with the ocean. My first hand experiences have shown me the problems we face with the UK fishing industry and I am eager to expand this further. The Citizen Inspector Network is such an amazing and unique experience which will uncover the unknown truths in the fishing industry. I am extremely excited to work for The Black Fish and firmly believe that the work conducted through citizen inspections will make a crucial change to the way our marine environment is protected.”


Valeska Diemel

This is a news item imageGermany Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator – Valeska has been in love with the ocean and all its creatures since she was very little. Becoming a marine biologist and activist to spent her life working for the health of the ocean was all she wanted to do. Valeska is studying a MSc in Marine Biology at the University of Bremen. She has previously worked as an activist with the anti-nuclear-power movement, Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd in Germany. “I have been working for a lot of different conservation organisations since I was 14 years old. There are so many bad things happening in the world, but overfishing is one of the major problems we now face. The understanding of the marine ecosystem I got during my time at university strenghtened me to translate my knowledge into action. Since the governmental institutions have little power or interests to stop these activities, everyone of us should do as much as he or she can to do so. That ss why I am with The Black Fish!

Marieke Besselsen

This is a news item imageNetherlands Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator – Spending most of her life in the woods and fields in a small village in the middle of The Netherlands, she was always surrounded and drawn to nature, picking up trash and saving the smallest of animals. After she heard a speech given by a marine environmentalist about the decline of our oceans and the status and health of marine life, she got more interested in marine conservation. “That one speech changed my life and I became active, did volunteer work in The Netherlands, Japan and Australia, went to protests and organised meetings. The Black Fish has inspired me greatly with all the ideas, upcoming plans and campaigns and I am very happy to have been given the opportunity to be a part of it by inspiring people in my home country and beyond to help raise awareness about the status of our oceans and all the life within.”

Kirsty McCullough

This is a news item imageRegional Coordinator, East of England – Having grown up in a small coastal town in England Kirsty has always felt an affinity with the sea and at the age of 11 she became a qualified scuba diver and has continued to be awestruck by the underwater world ever since. Kirsty has been lucky enough to dive some amazing sites around the world, but sadly witnessing the decline of our marine environment throughout the years has only reiterated to her the importance of conservation work like that of The Black Fish. “As a diver and a strong advocate for conservation, it saddens me that many divers fail to dive with the appropriate caution and respect our seas and their inhabitants need and deserve. I feel strongly that a lack of education amongst the people who are best placed to monitor and protect our marine environment is a wasted resource and providing all people with greater understanding of this delicate ecosystem is paramount to its recovery.”

Josh Britton

This is a news item imageRegional Coordinator, North West of England – Josh fell in love with the marine world after snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef aged 15. This developed his passion for change after seeing first hand the degradation of natural systems through anthropogenic activity. He then studied environmental science and pursued volunteering work in the U.K, Australia and Indonesia. Josh has since picked up scuba training and develops marine education projects for students, being a conservation project leader at a university society. “I love the drive and passion The Black Fish has for creating a movement of positive change with active volunteer participation within issues that are crucial for the sustainable development of our planet.”


Douwe van der Werf

This is a news item imageDesign and media consultant – Douwe is responsible for the overall look and feel of The Black Fish and provides the core team with strategic media advice. As a filmmaker, Douwe has a strong focus on subjects that matter. “Unfortunately, many branches of the global activist movement have become outdated in their approach and too attached to political dogma. In The Black Fish I see a new, goal-oriented and inclusive approach to activism; the organisation is both centrally organised as well as community driven. For the coming few years, it is our goal to ensure a healthy balance between both empowering as well as organising our rapidly expanding community.”

Explore Douwe’s work at

Loes van de Ven

This is a news item imageSocial media coordinator – Loes has been intrigued by the mystery of the deep blue since she was a little kid, so becoming a professional diver was only a natural choice. The first thing she noticed during her first dives, besides the beauty of the fish passing by, was the vulnerability of the precious underwater life. Immediately understanding that these brilliantly designed creatures are under attack, she realized something must be done to preserve them. Since her first dives, years ago, Loes is more determined than ever to spread the word about the need for action. With eight years of experience working as a professional journalist, she has now combined her two biggest passions in her work for The Black Fish. Loes coordinates The Black Fish’s social media channels.

Connect with Loes via Twitter @LoesDiDi

Stephanie Ferguson

This is a news item imageSocial media coordinator – Stephanie has always been fascinated by the diversity of life on Earth and pursued a BSc in Biology at the University of Calgary to immerse herself in the subject. She became an environmental activist during her university years, going on to work with environmental organisations in Canada and the UK, on everything from large-scale wilderness conservation to grassroots community garden projects. She is particularly interested in innovative approaches to environmental problems and oceans issues, and was drawn to The Black Fish and its focus on illegal fishing. When she is not online posting and tweeting the latest news on ocean conservation, you can find her gazing up at the night sky or checking out the tidal pools near her home in Burnaby on the beautiful west coast of Canada.

Sjan Verhoeven

This is a news item imageSocial media administrator – Growing up in a small rural town in the south of the Netherlands, Sjan always felt a strong connection to nature and animals. It wasn’t until she was travelling in Asia though that she developed an interest in the ocean. Initially reluctant to do a diving course, she quickly fell in love with the underwater world. While on a diving holiday in Egypt Sjan heard about The Black Fish for the first time and when a few years later the opportunity arose to join the team she didn’t need to hesitate. Sjan has been working as a journalist for several years and now combines her profession with her love for the ocean by taking care of the Dutch Facebook page of The Black Fish.

Dave Shaw

This is a news item imageProject Coordinator – Dave developed an interest in marine conservation as a teenager through the music scene and after moving to West Cornwall, where he lived right next to the beach, got involved in beach clean ups and other local projects. “I studied environmental science with the open university and read as much as I could find about oceanography and marine ecosystems then I found The Black Fish. The grassroots community focus of the relatively young organisation was a breath of fresh air and exactly what I was looking for. The Black Fish staff and volunteers I have been lucky enough to work with over the last few years have been inspirational and I look forward to The Black Fish going from strength to strength in the future.”

Emily Davey

This is a news item imageResearcher – Growing up in Birmingham, UK, Emily recently graduated with a master’s degree in oceanography. During the degree Emily studied at the National Oceanography Centre (Southampton) and the University of Bordeaux, with a specialisation in Biogeochemistry and Marine Ecology. After graduating she worked on a research cruise, which worked to understand community dynamics in the North Atlantic. “I am interested in the effects of human activities on marine ecosystems, including global warming, ocean acidification, overfishing and pollution. In my opinion industrial fisheries now pose the most serious threat to ocean life, which is why I have joined the effort to end unsustainable fishing practices in Europe. In my free time I enjoy outdoor activities, athletics and travelling.”

Kristin Halverson

This is a news item imageResearcher – Kristin Halverson is a Canadian yoga teacher and historian living in Northern Sweden. Having spent much of her life near the ocean, marine conservation is a cause close to her heart after witnessing first-hand the devastating impact illegal and destructive fishing practices, and poorly managed fisheries policies have had on these areas. She has dedicated her time and passion to activist work in the past, primarily on the animal rights, environmental and social justice fronts, and sees involvement marine activism as a natural and important step. She hopes with the help of organisations such as The Black Fish, more people will feel engaged to get involved in protecting and saving our oceans and marine life.

Teale Phelps Bondaroff

This is a news item imageResearcher – Teale is a long time researcher, strategist, politician, and activist. He has degrees in political science and international relations and is in the process of completing a PhD in Politics and International Studies. His research focuses on the strategy of non-state actors, particularly in the field of marine conservation. Teale has worked on numerous of campaigns around the world in a range of capacities. Following his passion for conservation, he has served as a deckhand and researcher aboard a marine conservation vessel in the Southern Ocean, dressed as a caribou to protect caribou habitat in Canada and broken ground on community gardens in the UK. He currently serves as a strategic consultant for several organizations including Fin Fighters in the UK and Ruby Animal Rescue in China. Teale is an avid ice hockey player and currently lives in Burnaby, BC, Canada.