Oil Spills Are Contaminating the World's Water SourcesOil spills happen all over the world. These oil spills are contaminating the world’s water sources and destroying marine life. Every year, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that more than 1 million gallons of oil contaminate the oceans. These oil spills cost the world important natural resources. Oil spills can happen in many ways. Some are accidental spills while mining the oil from the Earth; others happen due to oil rig malfunctions, attacked tankers or drowned tankers. The containment and clean-up of these spills can cost millions even billions of dollars.

Top 6 Major Oil Spills

The top six major oil spills in the world as of early 2019 are:

  1. The 1991 Gulf War Oil Spill resulted in 240 million gallons of oil spilled.
  2. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon Spill (also considered the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill) resulted in an estimated 53,000 barrels of oil spilled into the ocean every day for 3 months.
  3. The 1979 Ixtoc 1 Oil Well Spill resulted in 140 million gallons of oil spilled.
  4. The 1979 Atlantic Empress Oil Spill spilled 88.3 million gallons of oil.
  5. The 1983 Nowruz Field Platform Oil Spill spilled 80 million gallons of oil.
  6. The 1991 ABT Summer Oil Spill resulted in 51 million gallons of oil spilled.

 Just these oil spills alone have caused many lost lives and damage to marine life and the ecosystem on which humanity depends. When marine life is attacked, it has an effect on world populations. Oil spills kill thousands of marine life species when they occur. While cleaning the oil spills does save some, it is not before the damage has been done. Humans partly rely on marine life to survive.

Poverty and Water Contamination

Oil spills are contaminating the world’s water sources because it makes water unconsumable. It contaminates parts of the ocean and can seep into the clean water supply that humans and other species need in order to survive. It can seep into rivers, lakes and other bodies of water naturally connected to the ocean. While developed countries have access to clean water by manufacturing companies, many underdeveloped countries do not. Poverty ridden countries tend to suffer the most when water is contaminated due to lack of access to water bottles or barrels to collect rainwater.

Furthermore, the World Wildlife Fund posits that approximately three billion people around the world rely on seafood as their only source of protein. Oil spills continue to impact an already suffering ecosystem. Around 85 percent of marine fish stocks have already been either fully exploited or overfished. Add these two factors together and the marine life that poverty-ridden countries rely on begins to decrease and an already struggling country begins to fall even more.

ISCO Is Trying to Clean Up the Oceans

The International Spill Control Organization (ISCO) is a nonprofit NGO that was established in 1984 and has members in over 45 countries. ISCO has helped clean up multiple oil spills including Exxon Valdez in 1989, the Gulf War Oil Spill in 1991, Lebanon Oil Spill in 2006 and the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill in 2010.

Along with the aiding of cleaning up oil spills, ISCO also helps to raise co-operation and preparedness worldwide, promoting technological development and making knowledge on spill control available for all organizations when needed. Some recommended safety tips on preventing spills include regular inspections of containers including both piping and mechanical properties, proper loading and unloading procedures and proper training.

Why and how oil spills are contaminating the world’s water sources are important for society to take notice in because it costs hundreds to millions of dollars to clean up but will already have done damage towards contaminating water sources and damaging marine life ecosystems which affects poverty-ridden countries. Many oil spills can be avoided if more action towards taking safer steps to obtaining and transporting oil is taken. By increasing the safety of these actions, oil spills can begin to stop contaminating water sources.

Chelsea Wolfe
Photo: Unsplash

single-use plastics

In December of 2018, Peru‘s Congress passed a national law to significantly discourage and limit the use of plastics. The law was discussed for nearly a year prior to a unanimous vote in support of it. Over the past several years, plastic accumulating in and contaminating water sources has become a global crisis. With 71 percent of the Earth’s surface quickly becoming polluted, Peru’s efforts to do their part in eliminating single-use plastics is a momentous stepping stone in cleaning up the planet.

Peru’s Response

The issue with single-use plastics is that they are virtually everywhere. Their easy accessibility has created nothing short of a man-made disaster. However, companies around the world are coming up with more sustainable options in hopes of remedying the issue and easing the country’s transition away from plastic.

Peru’s Environment Minister Fabiola Munoz explains that they intend to transition to “reusable, biodegradable plastic or others whose degradation does not generate contamination by microplastics.” Peru’s law regulates the consumption of single-use plastics by drastically reducing the production of disposables. Therefore, inevitably forcing consumers to seek out alternatives to plastic, which has an extremely detrimental effect on the environment.

The Devastating Affect on Wildlife

Fish consume an average of 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic each year, which can cause intestinal damage and death. This means that larger marine mammals and human seafood eaters who consume the affected fish can become very ill. The South American country is home to 1,500 miles of Pacific coastline is known for its delicacy ceviche. The Environmental Ministry spearheaded the campaign “I don’t want this in my ceviche” in order to get more people on board with reusable bags.

This issue spreads far wider than the ocean; it affects each ecosystem that it comes into contact with. This is not limited to sealife. Birds often ingest or get caught in the plastic. Ingested plastic doesn’t break down in the birds’ stomachs and can lead to death. In addition to ingestion, marine mammals often become entangled large pieces of plastic. In fact, at least 700 species get entangled in plastic waste, some of which are already endangered.

Long-Term Plans

The Environment Ministry estimates that Peru uses 947,000 tons of plastic each year with 75 percent of it being discarded into landfills and only 0.3 percent being recycled properly. With this law, Peru is doing away with common disposable items, such as plastic straws, foam packaging and plastic tableware. It is anticipating getting rid of plastic bags entirely within three years by placing a tax on them. It will also ensure that plastic bottles are at least 15 percent recyclable within the next three years.

Additionally, the country plans to place a limit on the number of plastic products being distributed as well as imported and exported within the country. The Peruvian government also banned tourists from bringing single-use plastics into 76 of the country’s cultural sites, including the historic site and tourist destination, Machu Picchu.

This initiative is just the beginning of a larger movement to undo the damage that humans have done to the plant over generations. Hopefully, other nations across the globe will acknowledge Peru’s efforts and also be inspired to eliminate single-use plastics.

—Joanna Buoniconti
Photo: Pixabay

Plastic For ChangeUsually, the highest rates of plastic waste are correlated with areas highest in poverty. In fact, 80 percent of ocean plastic comes from areas of high poverty. What if there was a way to use plastic for change to clean up the ocean, and in doing so, lift people out of poverty?

Solutions to the Plastic Problem

This is the very motivation behind the Plastic Bank. Founded in 2013 by David Katz and Shaun Frankson, Plastic Bank is a nonprofit that pays people in poverty-stricken areas to pick up ocean trash. The organization pays these individuals a digital income in order to monitor corruption and ensure accuracy. Plastic Bank also throws in benefits including school tuition, cooking oil and more for people in these countries.

So far the organization has completed one major project in the Philippines, employing fishermen for $2.50 an hour (nearly double the average wage in the Philippines) who were able to remove three tons of waste as a result. Plastic Bank is working in Haiti and Indonesia to do projects of the same, or greater, magnitude.

Further Impact of Plastic Bank

Not only is this method far cheaper and more effective than government-run programs, but it is also teaching local communities who are often most directly affected by pollution, the importance of recycling and the proper way to go about it. In many countries like the Philippines or Haiti, survival trumps recycling etiquette, and therefore trash accumulates in the streets and waters. This contaminates the water sources, creating large numbers of people without access to clean drinking water. In Haiti, 75 percent of the population lacks access to this basic necessity.

Plastic Bank is transforming the way plastic is seen. The organization wants to help people realize the value of plastic and how we can use plastic for change. By educating individuals about the uses of plastic, they learn to view it as precious — a kind of currency almost.

Plastic Bank uses the recycled plastic to make what they dub, “social plastic,” plastic that other companies can use knowing they have helped people out of life in extreme poverty. Companies like Dell are using plastic in pellet form to make products such as computers and other electronics.

Going Above and Beyond

Other organizations have headed up similar efforts, including The Bounty Network, which recently completed a clean-up project in the Philippines, specifically in Manila Bay. Working with Filipino locals, the organization cleaned up nearly three tons of trash. Project participants were paid in both cryptocurrency and knowledge — having learned about the importance of caring for the earth.

This new trend of cleaning oceans by empowering disenfranchised people to make a difference is a win-win solution. With a steady income, people in countries like Haiti and the Philippines can overcome poverty, and with clean oceans, they can have safer, healthier environments that could even become good sources of food.

– Hannah Stewart
Photo: Wikimedia

Environmental conservation is an often-forgotten aspect of reducing global poverty and providing sustainable income for coastal communities. Conserving the ocean has become an even more pressing issue now because of overfishing. However, one company is putting this at the forefront of their work. Rare’s Fish Forever campaign is working to end the unprecedented endangerment of our coastal waters and protect the families who depend on them.

What Is Rare’s Fish Forever?

Founded in 1995 by Brett Jenks, Rare is an organization with a focus on conservation as a means to protect the world’s most vulnerable people and ensure that the wetlands, forests and oceans they depend on continue to thrive. Fish Forever is a campaign that targets coastal revitalization and conserving biodiversity along coastlines through bottom-up solutions. Jenks says, “The aim isn’t to teach a community to fish; it’s to help ensure they can fish forever.” Ensuring a future for these coastal communities relies on sustainable fishing practices.

Rare’s Fish Forever campaign uses community-led initiatives to provide solutions to issues like overfishing and coastal mismanagement because it empowers local populations and incentivizes future compliance with new regulations. These local people work with all levels of their government to come up with solutions that fit their unique situation. Active in Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines, Belize and Mozambique, Rare’s Fish Forever acts as a guide for communities while also providing tools the improve the data needed for these countries to make informed decisions.

Fish Forever in Mozambique

Mozambique is an African country with more than 1,500 miles of coastline, sustaining millions of people. Half of the population lives on the coastline in fishing communities. In fact, the economy is largely dependent on fisheries, particularly small-scale or artisan fisheries. Almost 85 percent of all fish caught in Mozambique are done so on a small-scale. Communities such as those in the Nampula, Sofala, Inhambane, Maputa and Cabo Delgado regions are good candidates for Rare’s Fish Forever solutions because they are home to most of the small-scale fisherman.

The country’s coastline is very diverse, second only to the Coral Triangle. However, due to climate change and unregulated fishing, the size of the fish catches has declined. In the last 25 years, small-scale catch sizes have declined 30 percent, and it is continuing to decline. Additionally, fisherman asserted that some species of fish had all-together disappeared. Climate change would only worsen these issues, so Rare’s Fish Forever worked with communities to come up with solutions to this threat. Together with Rare’s Fish Forever program, communities came up with four broad solutions to revitalize coastlines, protect biodiversity and ensuring sizeable fish catches for families.

  1. First, they decided to adopt government frameworks to better regulate fishing behaviors and make fishing more sustainable.
  2. Then, they built and strengthened community-based management of coastal fisheries.
  3. Thirdly, communities established fishing areas with managed access – places where fishing was prohibited or limited – and provided social and economic benefits to communities who abided by these rules.
  4. Lastly, they made environmental conservation more of the social norm through education and marketing campaigns.

All in all, Mozambique is on its way to recovery. With more than 100 organizations and institutions supporting Rare’s Fish Forever program, the country’s coastal waters and fishing communities are in good hands. That means a higher chance of conserving the ocean.

Rare’s Fish Forever in the Philippines

Coastal communities in the Philippines face the same sorts of issues as those in Mozambique. Looc Bay is a beautiful location that is home to many communities and attracts its fair share of tourists. Unfortunately, a combination of overfishing by local fisherman and environmental degradation from irresponsible tourism have caused a significant decline in the fish populations. This has only been accelerated by climate change.

The communities in the area have always been wary of external intervention. Their greatest worry when initially approached by Rare’s Fish Forever program was that coastal management would restrict fishing to a point that families could no longer sustain themselves through small-scale fishing. This distrust was fortunately misplaced.

Today, more than 4.4 square miles of coastal waters have been declared as Managed Access Areas and sanctuaries. These protected critical habitats require exclusive clearance, which is only granted to fisherman who comply with sustainable practices. To date, more than 800 fishermen have been granted exclusive access area, meaning that they are also faithful practitioners of sustainable fishing.

Jose Ambrocio, the Looc Municipal Councilor and chairperson of the Agricultural and Environmental Committee, has noted that “With Rare’s Fish Forever program, we are working to balance the economic needs of the people and the need to conserve the resources for the future generation.”

By challenging communities to develop their own solutions, Rare’s Fish Forever program is sustainable and empowering. Through this program, and programs like it, more sustainable fishing practices can be put into place, thus working towards a better future by conserving the ocean.

Julian Mok
Photo: Flickr

Using Ocean Plastic to End Poverty
There are an estimated 150 million tons of plastic in the oceans and about 80 percent of that plastic comes from countries that can be considered as countries with extreme poverty. Individuals struggling to feed their families and send their children to school do not have time to worry about recycling and are often unaware of the effects of pollution on their surrounding environment. To address this issue, David Katz founded the Plastic Bank, a company that is using ocean plastic to end poverty.

The Plastic Bank- Using Ocean Plastic to End Poverty

The Plastic Bank aims to combine social and environmental impact by creating value out of plastic waste. Communities suffering from poverty usually do not have effective waste management programs and therefore any plastic products used by local families end up polluting the surrounding environment. By working with impoverished communities, the Plastic Bank helps set up stores in which the accepted currency is post-consumer plastics. This enables individuals to collect plastics and exchange them for money, goods and services.

This program has proven to be very successful in Haiti. A number of stores have been founded in which locals can bring used plastics to be weighed and checked for quality and then traded in for credit. The stores that are created and operated by locals offer various products and services, from food and water to school tuition and medical insurance to cell phone minutes and high-efficiency stoves.

Cooperation with Other Companies

In addition to offering a means of steady income, this credit system allows individuals to set up a savings account. Impoverished communities often rely on cash transactions and are therefore at a greater risk of corruption and theft. To solve this, the Plastic Bank teamed up with IBM to employ blockchain technology, removing money from the equation completely.

The Plastic Bank then sells the plastics collected to socially and environmentally conscious companies around the world. Brands like Marks and Spencer and Henkel use recycled plastic in their manufacturing. As a consumer, everyone can support poverty-reduction efforts and the environment by buying products made with these recycled plastics.

Innovative Solutions

The Plastic Bank is continuing to expand its operations and is testing out other innovative solutions by using ocean plastics to end poverty, such as a bottle-deposit program in Vancouver in which all of the money collected from recycled plastics is sent to poor communities around the world. Another idea is to match churches in big cities with those in impoverished nations. For example, a church in London asking its members to bring in plastics and then, with the help of the Plastic Bank, sending the proceeds to a church in Cairo that is able to assist the members of its community suffering from poverty.

The Plastic Bank has formed a system in which plastic waste is given a value, offering individuals a means of income while incentivizing anti-pollution efforts. Not only is this program using ocean plastics to end poverty and to create jobs for locals living in poverty, but it also creates stores in which goods and services most needed by the community are available. As they continue to grow and implement new ideas, the Plastic Bank is supporting those suffering from poverty around the world while tackling a global pollution issue.

– Georgia Orenstein
Photo: Google

Saving Coral Reefs
Coral reefs cover only 0.1 percent of Earth’s surface but sustain around 1 billion people worldwide and 25 percent of all marine life. This impact alone is a major factor as to why saving coral reefs is an imperative mission, according to the United Nations Environment Program. Coral reefs protect coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms particularly in the Philippines, the Caribbean and Australia.

In addition, coral reefs also provide habitats for marine organisms, help with nutrient recycling and create a healthier environment to breathe in and do agriculture. They also provide environmentally-friendly fishing for human consumption while increasing marine job opportunities and tourism. For example, Fiji relies on the Great Sea Reef, the third largest in the world, for all of its food security and income for a population with over 250,000 people living on the poverty line.

Yet, the United Nations has reported that 70 percent of Earth’s coral reefs are threatened —  20 percent are already destroyed, 24 percent are at high risk of collapse and an additional 26 percent are at risk due to long-term threats. Acts such as coral bleaching, sale of live coral, plastic and chemical pollution and unregulated water activities and fishing contribute to dramatic reef loss. Coral reefs are vital for the environment, food and income globally.

NGO and Government Initiatives

Greater levels of protection are implemented by governments and NGOs. The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has created a future protection plan that involves the need to reduce marine pollution, regulate the harvesting of fish and end overfishing, unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices to restore fish stocks. Proper fishing can even provide secure food aid based on fish and shellfish to hundreds of thousands of people living in poverty.

The International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) in conjunction with the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 created a document titled, “The Future We Want.” This proposal emphasizes the importance of economic relief for the poor living coastal to reefs. The document outlines economic means to build “green-economic” societies that do not harshly deteriorate coral reefs and educate the poor. The ICRI also places importance on aid and public-private business partnerships as essential to saving coral reefs and reducing poverty.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that widespread coral bleaching has reduced dramatically as of 2018. The non-profit, Coral Reef Alliance (CRI), has also provided reef community infrastructure projects and scholarships for reef education to students in Fiji since 2005.

CRI encouraged the Honduras government to declare two areas as Sites of Wildlife Importance: Cordelia Banks in Roatán and Tela Bay. This denotation offers a greater level of protection and regulation, reduces fishing pressure and enables coral reefs to thrive. In collaboration with the Puakō community and universities in Hawai’i, CRI conducted dye tracer studies to track the movement of wastewater to oceans in an effort for saving coral reefs.

How To Protect Coral Reefs

Coral reefs do not just rely on government and NGO projects for aid. The ICRI has declared 2018 the International Year of the Reef and has partnered with Green Fins and the Reef-World Foundation to make sustainable diving practices the norm. The following list denotes five ways to protect coral reefs.  

  1. Always wear a life jacket and practice buoyancy prior to diving to not accidentally harm marine life.
  2. Use reef-friendly sunscreen. A report by the ICRI addresses toxics in UV products. Sunscreens that use non-nano zinc oxide as their active ingredients do not contribute to coral bleaching nor harm fish.
  3. Do not leave unwanted fishing nets or plastic into the water, as that only adds to suffocation of organisms and pollution.
  4. Build a coral reef.
  5. Contact representatives by call, email or in person. Demand action to pass legislation to protect coral reefs, stop ocean pollution and expand marine protected areas.

Saving coral reefs prevents poverty traps from occurring. A poverty trap is a situation where poor communities are forced to degrade resources of coral reefs in order to make ends meet. In Madagascar and Papua New Guinea, the populations living in poverty rely on government protection of coral reefs for food to prevent a poverty trap. With the right environmental, economic and social initiatives, reefs can be sustained to save marine life and the world’s poor.

– Areina Ismail
Photo: Flickr

Ocean Preservation in Developing CountriesMore than two-thirds of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans, which contain 97 percent of the planet’s water. Billions of people rely on the preservation of oceans to provide sustainable jobs and food resources. Ocean preservation in developing countries has proven to be especially critical. According to the FAO, fisheries and aquaculture make up 10 to 12 percent of the world’s population, with more than 90 percent working in small-scale fisheries in developing countries.

The health of oceanic ecosystems and marine life is what drives the health and sustainability of other global systems that allow the planet to be habitable above water. Healthy oceans not only promote economic growth and food production, but they are also crucial in mitigating the adverse effects of climate change. Warmer oceans cause ocean acidification, which threatens the balance and productivity of marine life and the Earth’s ecosystem.

The Biggest Problems

Marine Biodiversity Loss: The ocean’s diverse life greatly contributes to the wellbeing of humans. Fish benefit the ecosystem by regulating the climate and producing oxygen while also providing a source of protein, which many people depend on. However, marine ecosystems are facing an unprecedented loss in biodiversity as a direct result of habitat destruction, pollution, overfishing and climate change. This loss of marine biodiversity especially affects coastal communities in developing countries because marine resource exploitation often represents the majority of their livelihoods, serves as their main source of animal protein and, in some cases, represents their cultural identities.

Plastic Pollution: According to U.N. Environment, about eight million tons of plastic waste are produced each year, which is equivalent to the weight of the entire human population. This plastic pollution introduces micro-plastics into the marine life food chain. China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, and Thailand are primarily responsible for more than 50 percent of the total plastic waste found in oceans. If this trend continues without urgent action, oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050.

The 14th U.N. Sustainable Development Goal

In 2015, the U.N. developed 17 sustainable development goals to achieve by 2030. Goal 14 is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources. As a result, the U.N. urges countries to preserve marine biodiversity. Unfortunately, many marine biodiversity hotspots (areas that have large numbers of endemic species and are heavily threatened by habitat loss) are located in developing tropical countries, such as the Western Pacific Ocean, the Southwest Indian Ocean and the Coral Triangle. These places suffer from limited resources, which makes it difficult to effectively maintain or improve the biodiversity without international aid.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are intended to provide protection, according to the conservation status and biodiversity value of a particular area. In developing countries, MPAs are widely recognized as a tool to provide food security and build resilience against climate change impacts such as coastal erosion. Unfortunately, the lack of economic and human resources in these regions cause a great challenge in the creation, enforcement, monitoring and control of the MPAs.

The World Bank Group

The World Bank Group strives to promote oceanic preservation in developing countries by supporting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, establishing coastal and marine protected areas, reducing pollution, and developing a greater knowledge of ocean health.

The Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project is an example of a successful World Bank-funded oceanic preservation program. This project has pioneered “hazard line mapping” for the entire coastline of India, which makes it possible to better manage India’s coastal space and minimize coastal vulnerabilities by utilizing shoreline protection and strategic land use plans.

So far, 1.5 million people have benefited from this program. Sewage treatment plants for about one million people have been completed, which has contributed to the prevention of flow of more than 80 million liters of waste into the ocean per day, protecting over 250 miles of Indian coastline.

Our Ocean, Our Future: Call for Action

Today, more and more oceanic preservation initiatives are being prioritized in developing countries, such as Mozambique, Indonesia and several West African countries. However, despite the success of ocean preservation in developing countries, there is definitely still more work to be done. Proper management of fisheries and investment in the sustainable protection of marine habitats will improve the productivity of the ocean and provide benefits for the those living in developing countries while also ensuring future growth, food security and jobs for coastal communities.

– Lolontika Hoque
Photo: Flickr

the Kubulau Community
The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL), an environmental non-profit based out of Oakland, CA, is working to protect the world’s coral reefs and the people who rely on them. Fiji, an archipelago over of 300 islands in the South Pacific, is one of four major regions where CORAL works. Fiji is of particular interest to CORAL because the island is home to 42 percent of the world’s coral species and contains upwards of 10,000 square kilometers of coral reef.

CORAL and the Kubulau Community

In 2005, CORAL formed an alliance with the Kubulau Community located on the island of Vanua Levu, north of Fiji’s principal island Viti Levu.  The Kubulau Community sought CORAL so as to improve management of the Namena Marine Reserve between these two islands and project the incredible biodiversity of the Fijian coral reefs.

Namena is the largest no-take marine protected area (MPA) in Fiji as it covers part of the traditional fishing grounds (or “qoliqoli”) of the Kubulau community. The people of Kubualu and CORAL recognized the environmental, cultural and economic benefits of ensuring longevity for their coral reefs. Over-fishing and poaching in their traditional fishing grounds, as well as an overall lack of management, threatened the livelihood and cultural values of the Kubulau people.

Alicia Srinivas, the Associate Program Manager for CORAL, described the deep connection between the coral reefs and the people of Kubualu, saying, “Coral reefs and these communities are inextricably linked; you can’t have one without the other.”

The creation of Namena and the fishing restrictions that accompany it — parts of it are no-take zones and in parts limited sustainable fishing is permitted — have ensured the area will remain a viable fishing source into the future.  Also, the protected marine environment attracts tourism, specifically scuba divers, which brings a new source of revenue to the Kubulau people.

 

An Alliance that Benefits the Community

With the support and assistance of CORAL, the Kubulau community formed the Kubualu Resource Management Committee (KRMC) in 2009.  This community-run committee works to protect the sea’s invaluable resources and also works to ensure that the Kubulau people themselves directly benefit from the Namena Marine Reserve.

KRMC and CORAL created a sustainable community fund, to which visitors to Namena are encouraged to donate.  In 2015 alone, visitors donated over $20,000 to the fund. The money goes toward environmental management as well as to the Kubualu Education Fund, which helps Kubulau children attend school. To date, scholarships have benefitted over 200 students.

Rebuilding after Cyclone Winston

Cyclone Winston hit Fiji in February of 2016. The largest tropical cyclone ever recorded, Winston’s damage was unparalleled with wind gusts topping 190 miles per hour. The Kubulau Community was particularly hard-hit; over 80 percent of homes there were destroyed.

The values of community and sustainability, and the money and resources of the improved management of the Namena Marine Reserve, helped the Kubulau community recover after Winston in a way not seen in most other Fijian communities ravaged by the storm.

Immediately after the storm ended, KRMC mobilized all able-bodied members of the community to begin clearing roads, assessing the damage and rebuilding homes. The community was able to begin rehabilitating their destroyed community before receiving any outside assistance because of the unity, organization and monetary resources brought by the creation of the Namena Marine Reserve and the KRMC to their community.

KRMC provided the leadership necessary for Kubulau to start rebuilding after the storm must faster than other Fijian communities without the same leadership or resources. In addition, revenue saved over the years from the voluntary dive fund — as well as $5,000 supporters of CORAL sent to Kubulau — helped the community finance its rebuilding.

Looking Forward

CORAL hopes to replicate the incredible relationship it has with the Kubulau Community elsewhere in Fiji. In 2016, CORAL began working at three additional Fijian sites: Waivunia (on Vanua Levu), Ra (on Vita Levu) and Oneata (on a small island East of Viti Levu).  Srinivas says that CORAL is trying to create win-win situations for both the environment and the people of Fiji.

The win-win situation is evident in Kubulau where the Namena Marine Reserve is protecting coral reefs and issuing in a new era of fiscal and community stability for the Kubulau community. The Kubulau’s success in rebuilding after Winston is further proof of CORAL’s profound impact on this community.

– Abigail Dunn
Photo: Flickr

Healthy Oceans are Key to Alleviate Global Poverty
The fishing market is a crucial component of both developing economies and the global economy, acting as an essential food source for millions living along seashores and waterways. It is undeniable that healthy oceans provide a great sense of poverty alleviation.

In 2012 alone, global fish production reached 153 million tons, accounting for 16.5 percent of the world’s animal proteins and essential micronutrients. As the demand for fishery products continues to rise, fisheries are in dire need of solutions to climate change, water pollution and other environmental concerns that directly affect the fishing industry.

“Healthy oceans are critical for combatting rural poverty, ensuring food security, improving nutrition and achieving zero hunger,” José Graziano da Silva, the director-general of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) announced at the African Ministerial Conference on Ocean Economies and Climate Change.

Global warming, rising sea levels and saltwater intrusions are only some of the biggest threats to coastal communities.

The FAO estimates that 10-12 percent of the world’s population rely on fisheries and aquaculture for financial and physical survival. About 38 million people worldwide are fishers and fish-farmers, 95 percent of whom live in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Developing nations are responsible for 90 percent of the 100 percent increase in fish consumption since 1973. Currently, small-scale fisheries provide 50 percent of fish products used for consumption worldwide.

Small-scale fisheries improve economies and develop nations, contributing up to seven percent of national GDPs in some countries. Coastal communities account for 61 percent of the world’s gross national product (GNP), according to the World Bank.

Local fishing industries both reduce and prevent poverty at the household level through employment and economic opportunities. The FAO reports that the majority of households in developing countries involved with fishing kept from going further into poverty.

“For billions around the world — especially the world’s poorest — healthy oceans mean jobs, food and protection,” the World Bank writes in an article. “Healthy waters are crucial for growth and food production in developing countries.” Thus, the World Bank, the FAO and other organizations have called for sustainable solutions to reverse or lessen the effects of climate change and environmental destruction.

The World Bank, for example, has an active ocean-improvement program worth $5.4 billion, which provides funding for coastal infrastructure, ocean habitat conservation and other related projects. The organization also has educational programs to provide information on oceans and fisheries for developing nations.

Ashley Leon

Photo: Flickr

Preservation of Ocean Water: An Unusual Way to Mitigate Poverty
Oceans all over the world represent an almost infinite reservoir of water — they have limitless potential in terms of offering a source of food and income through fishing, aquaculture, shipping and export.

Despite the incredible range of functions that oceans serve, they are constantly being threatened on a daily basis. This occurs through processes such as eutrophication which occur as a result of excessive fertilizer use.

In eutrophication, algal bloom on water surfaces prevents adequate oxygen reaching marine life, consequently resulting in a death of aquatic organisms. Ocean water is also being contaminated on a daily basis by pollutants released into the water by sewage plants, factories and farms.

In developing countries, oceans can offer a source of employment not only for fishermen but also for professional boatmen and retailers who rely on sales of aquatic produce. It is estimated that approximately 3 billion people globally depend on oceans for their nutritional needs, including vital protein and minerals.

Marasmus and Kwashiorkor are two important protein deficiency conditions that prevail in developing countries. Inadequate protein intake in these conditions may be boosted by the protein sources harvested from oceans. Globally, 740 million people suffer from iodine deficiency, resulting in clinical implications such as goiter and brain damage. Iodine deficiencies may be corrected by iodine-fortified salt, which can be obtained by chemical crystallization and purification of ocean water.

Coastal regions have the added benefit of income acquired through tourism. It is also estimated that 90 percent of fishers come from developing countries alone, and hence oceans represent vast hubs of employment that require urgent conservation.

Preservation of ocean water may help in reduction of hunger, especially in developing countries, which are greatly contingent upon this natural resource. Humanitarian organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, are increasing their collaboration with other countries to support strategies that ensure a sustainable supply of seafood, conservation of aquatic ecosystems and preservation of highly targeted areas such as coral reefs.

Oceans also have therapeutic value, as many medicines that can be used to treat a disease can be acquired from ocean water. These medicines include antibiotics, that can be used to supplement cure of bacterial infection in developing countries. Oceans also contain substances that can act as anti-inflammatory therapies to treat inflammatory pathologies such as asthma.

In recognition of the integral importance of oceans to stability and balance in the ecosystem, ocean conservation is currently one of the Sustainable Development Goals pursued by the United Nations. As ocean water constitutes approximately 97 percent of all water present on Earth, it is our responsibility to pay heed to a judicious preservation of ocean water.

Tanvi Ambulkar

Photo: Flickr