News / Africa

Saving the Seas to Ensure Food Security

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

Since the food crisis of a few years ago, much attention has been paid to improving agriculture and conserving the land.  But land is not the only source of food.  The oceans provide food and jobs for millions of people, yet very little is being done to protect them.

Marine conservationists say less than one percent of the world’s oceans are protected.  They say the seas need protection from people, who take from their bounty, often without regard to the consequences – or even awareness of the results of their actions.

Playing catch-up

Steve Watkins, senior vice president of RARE, a conservation group in the Washington, D.C., area, says, “It’s been much easier to initially focus on the terrestrial world, the landscapes we see, because we all live and walk around on the land.  And it’s just the first thing that comes to mind. So, in a sense there’s a bit of catch-up in terms of paying attention to the oceans that needs to happen.”

Some Malagasy learn about RARE efforts to preserve the oceans
Some Malagasy learn about RARE efforts to preserve the oceans

RARE, a nonprofit group, is working in 50 countries to get local communities to treat the seas with more respect and with an eye toward the future.

“We firmly believe in helping local communities to address their own environmental issues, which is why we seek out community leaders, that we can kind of train and mentor and help them to succeed.  So it’s about sort of their growth and them address their problems rather than us running our own projects,” says Watkins.

Oceans at risk

He describes oceans as being “dramatically threatened.”

“Many governments, less developed around the world, have really for the last 50 years or more viewed the expansion of their fishing fleets and their fish catches as one of their economic development objectives.  And that’s just become so efficient in the last decade that it’s just got so far ahead of the oceans’ ability to reproduce and stay healthy,” he says.

That’s why Marine Protected Areas are being set up around the world and monitored by local communities.

“(It’s) an area of the ocean,” he says, “ that people that people agree to set aside to either fish less or not fish at all.  So that the fish and other creatures that live in that area of the ocean can live out their life cycle. Grow big, have more children.  In a sense become kind of a bank account, which accumulates interest in the sense of productivity of the environment.  And it can really help to repopulate the more productive fishing grounds.”

Good intentions, bad results

For example, Watkins says a Maritime Protected Area is being set up in southwestern Madagascar.

“It’s really a microcosm of what’s happening perhaps the world over, where, for many centuries, the ethnic group that lives there – they’re called the Vezo people – have really lived in harmony with the ocean.  They’re a semi-nomadic seafaring people,” he says.

Then, despite the best intentions, things began to go wrong.  Both fish and their habitat suffered.

“They’ve begun to have access to things like poison.  Even things just like household bleach can be used as poison in the oceans to kill all the fish so they float to the surface for harvesting,” he says.

Malagasy fisherman
Malagasy fisherman

He adds, “They’ve started to receive things like mosquito nets to obviously address very important health issues for the community.  But those mosquito nets, if they’re used as fishing nets, are so, so fine that they lift all of the fish larvae and juvenile fish, as well as the larger fish people are trying to catch.  So (they) stop those larvae from growing into future fish for people to catch.”

Reefs were also destroyed when the Vezo people used mining picks to break the coral apart looking for octopus.  Previously, they might have used sticks to probe holes in the reef.  In the short term, the mining pick method appears more productive, but it has long-term consequences as the home of marine life is shattered.

The senior vice president of RARE says if the local populations are empowered to care for the oceans and their food supply, they will see the benefits of using sustainable fishing methods.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs