Dear friends and colleagues,
Today we mourn the loss of Joanna Toole.
There is so much that is beautiful about Joanna, it’s difficult to express her soul in mere words. Perhaps it’s the heart that is more intuitive at times like these—able to register the connections between us, when our intellects fail—because today we feel her essence, even though her spirit has left the mortal world.
The news that Joanna has lost her life in the airplane crash near Addis Ababa on Sunday morning has left us in a deep shock. We never expect to lose people so young.
But it is in remembering who she was that we keep her spirit alive. Not only was Joanna a dear colleague and friend, she
was genuine, unwavering champion for a better world for people and animals everywhere. Everyone who had the pleasure to know Joanna, loved and was inspired by her.
For the last fifteen years, she worked on animal welfare and ocean conservation issues within nongovernmental and intergovernmental sectors. She was the Global Campaign Lead for World Animal Protection’s campaign on marine debris and during this time established the Global Ghost Gear Initiative—a cross-sectoral alliance committed to eliminating lost and discarded fishing gear from the oceans removing the devastating impact this gear has on marine wildlife. She also spent many years working on cetacean hunting issues, including addressing whaling through the International Whaling Commission and was committed to national campaigns in partnership with local organisations in the Faroe Islands and Norway.
Between 2017 and 2018 Joanna joined OceanCare as an Ocean Policy Consultant and brought her depth of experience of working within high-level, policy making forums including the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Environment Programme, and the International Maritime Organization to our organizations. During this time, she worked to established, and then served as the coordinator for, the Abidjan Aquatic Wildlife Partnership, leaving another lasting legacy of her profound and wonderful commitment to wildlife.
During the same period, she also worked on sustainable fisheries with the FAO, and in late in 2018 moved to a wonderful new fulltime position in that organisation—work she dreamed of doing because of the doors that could open, tackling issues she cared about on another level. She was on a mission for the FAO, and should have represented it this week at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, when she was tragically lost to us all.
The familiar landscape of our lives now has a path with an abrupt end. Walking forward without her won’t be the same. We will miss her smile, the sparkle in her eyes, her sense of humour, and her profound and thoughtful depth. Already we deeply mourn her departure, but who she was and what she stood for has left a poignant legacy. We will continue our shared effort with her spirit in our hearts.
We feel blessed that we had the privilege to know her.
Today, our hearts and thoughts are with her family and friends and especially with her partner Paul.
On behalf of the OceanCare team