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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More