POF activists target reef conservation

| 28/07/2021 | 2 Comments
Protect Our Future 2021 campaign

(CNS): The local students behind one of Cayman’s most effective environmental advocacy groups, Protect Our Future, are launching a new campaign to get the country to focus on protecting the reefs around the Cayman Islands. Following a trip to Little Cayman, where they documented an area of coral reefs that are still some of the most pristine in the world, the students are saying there are lessons to be learned from the work that has gone into preserving the island. They chose the theme “Listen to Little and Learn from Grand” to urge Cayman to listen to past wisdom and learn from past mistakes.

Little Cayman is a global “Hope Spot” because it is teeming with marine life, including an abundance of threatened and endemic species. It is also one of the last remaining spawning sites for the endangered Nassau grouper and its beaches provide a place for hundreds of turtles to nest. It received the well deserved designation last year, which environmentalists hope will help to ensure that the island remains a sanctuary for marine life.

George Town Harbour is also a “Hope Spot”, but this designation was almost lost recently because of the threat to the reefs in the area by the proposed cruise berthing project. POF is one of many activist groups that joined the campaign to prevent government from pursuing its plans for the project, which has now been shelved.

The students frequently partner with other local environmental advocates in their creative campaigns, such as working with Plastic Free Cayman, CCMI and the Mangrove Rangers to focus on issues of plastic pollution, mangrove preservation and coral reef health. Led by National Geographic Youth Explorer Ben Somerville and OH-WAKE Magazine Editor Dejea Lyons, they are able to access local and international platforms, including National Geographic, OH-WAKE Magazine and Mission Blue.

POF member Amber Ebanks developed the slogan “Listen to Little and Learn from Grand” for this latest campaign to highlight the wisdom of older people that is often lost and the wisdom of the young that is often ignored, and to encourage younger people and future leaders to learn from the past mistakes of Grand Cayman, as the health of the ecosystems decline around the largest island as a result of unsustainable development.

The students said, “As Caymanians, we are fortunate to have Little Cayman but many take the island for granted in the face of unchecked development projects, impeding climate change, and continued loss of biodiversity. This youth initiated campaign aims to not only raise awareness but to challenge our government to take the necessary steps to protect the natural habitats of our islands.”

Protecting the reefs does not mean they will be neglecting the other elements of past campaigns, as they are still hoping to see a national plastic ban, full protection for the central mangrove wetlands, and more funding for reef preservation because all three are important to marine conservation.

“As much of the world continues to battle the loss of biodiversity, our campaign encourages our leaders to ‘open their eyes’ to both what is happening and to what is possible,” POF stated.

Meanwhile, the Cayman Islands Mangrove Rangers celebrated World Mangrove Day with the inaugural ‘Cayman Mangrove Festival’, which involved more that 30 students from Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac, alongside ten artists who contributed their mangrove-inspired artwork to the charity event. The proceeds from the sale of the art will help fund the Rangers’ mission to promote mangrove education, conservation and restoration.

The widespread community support for the event indicates Cayman’s continued connection to its wetlands, said Mangrove Rangers Director Martin Keeley. “It was a wonderful experience to see such a fantastic turnout, both for the art show featuring the islands’ students and invited artists and the interest displayed by the diverse Caymanian community who attended the event,” Keeley said.

“The student art was a clear sign to us that young people already have a love for Cayman’s mangroves. For me there has always been a powerful spiritual and artistic connection to mangroves, and the incredible response to our first Cayman Mangrove Festival shows that many others have the same, deep connection,” he added.

Find out more about the campaign on POF’s Facebook or Instagram pages.

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

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    No comments! Shocking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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