Katharina as a guest in Paris

by firmm Team

the logo

Text and photos: Elina Zlatanska

On 5 March 2024, Katharina Heyer shared her passion about marine mammals during an insightful and inspiring 'Lunch & Learn' event organised together with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and its World Business Women initiative.

ICC’s World Business Women is a staff-led initiative that works to support women at ICC to succeed in their careers and to lead by example to shape the future of women in business (for more information see Diversity and inclusion - ICC - International Chamber of Commerce (iccwbo.org)

The event took place online and in person at the ICC’s Paris Headquarters. It was organised within the annual ICC International Women's Day's celebrations aimed at celebrating successful and powerful women such as Katharina Heyer.

Elina with two participants

After a brief introduction by Elina Zlatanska regarding the different species that can be encountered in the Strait of Gibraltar and the work done by firmm, Katarina shared her experience and gave some insights into her impactful work. Katharina explained how her previous work as a fashion designer has helped her to be organised and manage a foundation. She highlighted the difficulties on her journey to set up the foundation in Spain during the initial years. But due to her perseverance and love for marine mammals the foundation prospered and is now a leading operator for responsible whale watching and fighting for the rights of these beautiful creatures.

During the event the new documentary by ARTE with the participation of Katharina and members of her team was briefly presented. The documentary "Orcas Alert" can be found on Youtube. As its title suggests, the documentary looks at the phenomenon of the recent orca attacks in the Strait of Gibraltar.

Katharina live

Katharina mentioned firmm Kids which is specifically dedicated to children (from 9 to 99 years). The learning materials filled with interesting facts and photos can be used by parents and teachers to educate children about the ocean and the animals living in it. They are available in several languages and can be found here: https://www.firmm.org/en/kids

The most important messages that were relayed were the need to reduce the use of plastics so that they do not end up in the oceans and the benefits of recycling; and the importance of watching animals in liberty through responsible whale watching operators such as firmm and not in dolphinariums and marine animal parks.

The event was followed by a Q&A session. Members of ICC staff asked interesting questions about the way the collected data was used, the interaction between firmm and other operators and shipping companies in the Strait of Gibraltar, the state and the future of the oceans, and many more. The event finished on a positive note – there is (still some) hope for our oceans! Katharina shared that the sightings of sperm whales have never been so many before and the sightings of orcas and pilot whales have been stable over the past few years.

This was a unique opportunity to learn from an expert and draw inspiration from Katharina’s journey. It is always stimulating to meet inspiring women such as Katharina herself. To learn more about Katharina’s incredible story, you can also read her book.

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