Oceana Magazine Spring 2013: Donor Profile: Loic Gouzer
Born in Geneva, Switzerland, Loic Gouzer was introduced to the oceans at an early age through his father’s family business: oyster farming. An uncle maintains the tradition today in Brittany, France, but the onceflourishing business is now on the verge of bankruptcy, primarily, Gouzer believes, due to rising ocean temperatures, which have encouraged the spread of viruses affecting the oyster immune system.
“Witnessing the progressive decline of my family’s business was my first wake-up call,” he says.
Gouzer has since become an ocean advocate in an unconventional way – through his work in the art world. As senior vice president and international specialist for the Post-War and Contemporary Art Department at Christie’s, in May 2012, Gouzer managed the auction of Yves Klein’s FC 1, one of the most important post-War European works of art. The painting was sold at a record-breaking price of $32.5 million, $1 million of which was donated to Oceana.
He is also an avid diver, and has seen ocean destruction firsthand, including massive coral mortality and the decline of sharks and other large ocean predators. But the ocean issue that troubles Gouzer the most is destructive fishing gear, specifically longlines, which can contain miles of baited hooks that catch anything in their path.
“I’ve seen boats 80 miles out of Montauk pulling out longlines with sharks of all sorts and leatherbacks turtles, all to catch one or two juvenile swordfish,” Gouzer says. “Longlining is completely indiscriminate; it is in my opinion the ecological version of land mining. What takes place on those boats, sheltered from public scrutiny, a couple of miles off our coast, is a disgrace to our planet.”
Gouzer is consistently amazed that so few people know about the crisis in the oceans, and he is dedicated to doing his part to help.
“Although my day job in the art industry has nothing to do with the ocean, I try to use my work and my connections to create awareness to raise funds and change minds,” he says. “I firmly believe that anyone can and should do it at every level.”