“We need long term collaboration between our rural coastal communities, therefore making them the solution and not the problem,” said Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) director, Dr Tony Ribbink at a South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and Sustainable Seas Trust organised breakfast event at the Knysna Yacht Club last Wednesday. The event was part of the SAMSA SEA Pledge Saldanha to Sodwana Tour, where for four weeks the team will be touring South Africa’s coast line and spreading the word of coastal conservation to everyone from young school children to the various mayors and dignitaries along the way.
More ideas than coffee was passed around at the breakfast, which served as a meeting of minds where the agendas of SST and SAMSA were laid out for all interested parties. “SST is very keen to play a facilitative role in Knysna,” explained Ribbink, “And I believe that this is an ideal area for a South African Hope Spot.”
Internationally renowned oceanographer, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and patron of the SST, Dr Sylvia Earle was granted a wish in 2009 after winning the TED prize for that year. Her wish was for a development of “Hope Spots” around the world where ocean life can be protected from any disturbance and be allowed to flourish as it should.
For such a goal to be reached, the needs of the coastal communities living along the coast line must to be addressed, as former president Nelson Mandela stated, there cannot be environmental stability without the issues of poverty, food security, education and human dignity considered simultaneously. The interest in protecting our environment in Knysna was excitingly high, demonstrated by the calibre of guests at the breakfast. Representatives from Honda Marine, the Rastafarian community, Sea Cadets, the tourism industry and many more concerned citizens shared their views on coastal conservation.
Love Knysna Projects, headed by Mike Hampton (a.k.a. Wicked Mike), played host to the SST and SAMSA , helping organise the event and invite key players. Luckily SST is not all talk and no action, and with a great deal of help from Hampton, the team were privileged to spend the rest of the day with a group of Knysna Sea Cadets as well as students from Concordia High, Knysna High and Hornlee Secondary. SST spoke to the Cadets about the hard facts about our disappearing marine life and the small ways everyone can help in saving our oceans. Everyone was then encouraged to make a SEA Pledge, a promise you make to yourself and the planet, detailing how you’ll try contribute to healthier oceans.
Love Knysna Projects then organised for everyone to visit Lookout Point and have a bird’s eye view of Coney Glen beach which they then proceeded to as the last stop of the busy day. “By showing you this beautiful spot I want to think about how lucky we are to have such a wonderful coast line,” said Hampton, “and then, perhaps, you’ll share it with your friends or your family and get everyone involved in looking after it.” As Earle said at the launch of the tour in Cape Town mid-April, “What you experience, you’ll love, and then you’ll want to protect it.”
As the Sea Cadets scrambled across the rocks, found sea urchin in the sand and enjoyed the sunset over the estuary, it was clear that the best way to educate communities for environmental conservation is to immerse them in what it is that needs conserving.
South African’s everywhere are invited to join the SST and SAMSA on the coastal tour, to make their SEA Pledge and set their own personal goals of how they will contribute to securing the healthy future of our oceans.
View a photo gallery and blog of the kids fun, educational trip here.
Article by Desiree Schirlinger (SST)