This is the motto driving a newly established marine science mentoring programme which aims to address a critical shortage of skills in marine conservation science and management , write Tholithemba Shange and Romeo Ndlovu
First published in Sunday Tribune
Amid threats to the ocean escalating at an unprecedented alarming rate, the Ocean Stewards programme enables marine biology students to work alongside top marine scientists. It also provides associated research experience on board a 72-foot, wooden expedition yacht, the Angra Pequena.
The programme was conceived six months ago by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s Scientific Services Senior Manager, Dr Jean Harris, and is supported by The Blue Fund (a partnership between Grindrod Ltd and Wildlands), the African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme (ACEP) and the National Research Foundation.
“There is a diminishing cohort of marine scientists and practitioners that are working in the conservation space,” said Harris. “Through the Ocean Stewards programme, we want to ensure that future generation of marine scientists are equipped and inspired to ensure effective future governance and protection of the oceans.”
The first batch of 16 marine biology students University of KwaZulu-Natal are currently involved in massive mapping project that aims to expand the network of Marine Protected Areas for South Africa.
“Currently, less than 1% of our offshore environment is protected. By global standards it should be a minimum of 10%, but more like 20%,” said Harris.