TUESDAY OCT 27
Hello Delegates! How was your Day 2?
After a very busy and successful Monday it was nice to have a little more time on the second day of the symposium to network with new and old colleagues, and enjoy each other’s company in the afternoon over coffee and posters.
When I arrived at our venue this morning I could tell that others besides myself have discovered the amazing coffee that the Beaver Creek Coffee Estate sells at the Wild Coast Sun. Did you know that Beaver Creek is the southernmost coffee estate in the world? And it is just down the road! A truly local product being consumed by not-so-local delegates. There is your Port Edward fact of the day, locally and sustainably sourced by me.
Our morning plenary session was sponsored by the South African Network for Coastal and Oceanographic Research (SANCOR), and we were lucky to have Dr Mike Watkeys and Dr Hugh Govan as the keynote speakers.
As Mike Watkeys told us, from Charles Lyell to Charles Darwin, geology has been changing lives. The evidence of this is in the writings that Charles Darwin produced on, and after, his voyage on the Beagle, during which time he read Charles Lyell’s “Principles of Geology” (Vol I, 1832). The importance of this cannot be overlooked because it was the emphasis that Lyell placed on successive changes in both organic and inorganic systems that paved the path to natural selection for Darwin.
Just like the species many of us study, coastlines are organic in nature, ever active and dynamic. 200 million years ago there was no Western Indian Ocean, but the glacial (haha) pace at which the continents moved apart luckily gave us all time to get those funding grant applications in. The emergence of the world’s first circumpolar current after 38 million years of cooling gave rise to global weather patterns that still operate today. I suppose, were I Mike Watkeys, I might even say that ‘faults’ in geology have led to ‘successions’ in biology!
Our second plenary speaker, Hugh Govan, reinforced and spoke of many of the same principles that WIOMSA stands for, but mostly he reminded us that as scientists we should that remember one of our core purposes should be to share and use knowledge to improve the lives of coastal communities. Sometimes this means that they teach us more than we teach them, and we should not overlook the bottom-up opportunities that strong communities with local knowledge afford areas in need of protection and management.
30 million square kilometers of EEZ between Melanasia, Micronesia, and Polynesia, support some of the fastest growing populations in the world, who are almost totally dependent on coastal fisheries for protein sources as well as livelihoods. Locally Managed Marine Areas, LMMAs, are being implemented by over 900 communities in the Pacific at an increasingly rapid rate because they are driven by community aspirations. If you help people do what they want and need, they in turn can help with the implementation of improved protection and management plans. I would venture to say that there is not a single successful conservation story in our WIO region that does not involve community input and stakeholder support. Simply put, scientists have to remind themselves that first and foremost they are humans, with the same human hopes and desires for a better life and a better world.
We had a short morning session for talks and then a very exciting afternoon! At least I hope that your afternoon was as full and exciting as mine! WIOMSA and the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI) launched the book “OFFSHORE FISHERIES OF THE SOUTHWEST INDIAN OCEAN: their status and the impact on vulnerable species”.
After the book launch delegates moved between the poster sessions and many attended the live-stream conversation from the Polynesian voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa that we were privileged enough to be a part of. From her home in Hawaiʻi to her first port of call in South Africa (Richards Bay), the Hōkūleʻa has voyaged about 19,000 kilometers, or over 10,000 nautical miles. This historic occasion is the first time the African coast has seen a Polynesian voyaging canoe and crew, and we welcome them to our WIO home waters.
I was immensely grateful for the opportunity to speak with Captain Nainoa Thompson, who is also the president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, as well as a master navigator. For more notes and observations, please see David Obura’s contribution to the newsletter about his experience during the session. Without telling you everything, I will just say that it was amazing and emotional to speak with someone who is so connected to the sea, who reveres the power and awesome beauty of the oceans, and who sees it first hand on his world-wide voyage. I also think he probably has salt water flowing through his veins, but for now that is just an unconfirmed rumour (a mermaid told me).
What will Wednesday bring us delegates? I look forward to our continued shared experiences. See you all in the morning – I’ll be in the coffee line at Beaver Creek first thing.
Rita (Social Media and Communications, WIOMSA 2015)
*Photos by CC Photography #olympus Www.cc-photography.co.za