The Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) SAMSA Sea Pledge Tour was introduced to an audience at the Lawhill Maritime Institute in Simon’s Town last night (Sunday 13 April). The SST is a “charitable NGO committed to restoring South Africa’s coastline through education and support for the people that rely on it.”
The second SAMSA Sea Pledge Tour kicks off in Cape Town this evening before making various stops at coastal towns and villages along the southern and eastern coastline of South Africa, ending at Sodwana Bay on the 9 May.
Before brief introductions of the guest speaker, world famous oceanographer Dr Sylvia Earle, by South African free-diving record holder Hanli Prinsloo and former SA Minister of Arts and Culture and ex-Kwa-Zulu Natal Premier Dr Ben Ngubane, Mr Brian Ingpen, Head of Maritime Studies at Simon’s Town High School gave a brief overview of his department. A short synopsis will follow this article.
Urging all to take good care of the oceans and all creatures in it, Dr Searle said, “If there is no ocean there is no life as all life needs water. 98% of our water originates from the ocean. The ocean is a living soup – it is not just a place of rocks and salty water. It drives the oxygen, nitrogen and sulphur cycles that makes all life possible. Bacteria and microbes in the deep sea drive the food chains… what we do to one species of life in the ocean will affect all life in and out of the ocean.”
Dr Earle said that since the middle of the 20th century mankind has accumulated the greatest amount of knowledge ever about the ocean and has been able to tap into sources of power unknown before. “If only we had known 50 years ago what we know now we would probably have done many things very differently. We must use this accumulated knowledge and wisdom for the benefit of our children and our grandchildren and all future generations. We must share the knowledge. We must make a difference.”
Making a difference implies being aware of what we take from the ocean and what we put into it. “We are stripping the ocean to feed a luxury taste. We are feeding krill to our animals which, if they had the choice, would eat grass. We have food enough on our planet to feed more than seven billion people. We don’t need to eat tuna or lobster or shark fins to survive. It is better to eat animals lower in the food chain such as catfish, tilapia and carp rather than tuna.”
“Despite the fact that we can never make things the way they were, we can make things better than they would have been had we done nothing at all.”
Although not an overly scientific talk, the presentation was well received and coloured by various stunning photos of coastlines and sea-life. Furthermore, Dr Earle managed to convey the importance of marine conservation and the audience left with a heightened sense of oceanic awareness. The SST must be commended on the fantastic role that they are playing in promoting marine conservation and community upliftment schemes in a South African context and the rest of their Sea Pledge Tour is set to be well received by local and enthusiastic coastal dwellers.
For more info about the SST SAMSA Sea Pledge see http://www.sst.org.za/
For more info about Dr Earle see
The Lawhill Maritime Institute in Simon’s Town
The Lawhill Maritime Institute, established in 1996, is part of Simon’s Town High School. Students at the institute follow the Maritime Studies course from Grade 10. The curriculum includes two languages, Maths, Science and the two maritime subjects, Maritime Economics and Nautical Science (navigation and seamanship.
Students at the institute come from all over South Africa. The boarding hostel, built with the aid of funding from a Canadian-based tanker company, accommodates fifty four students. “It is home from home for our young people, of whom we are very proud,” said Brian Ingpen.
SAMSA (the South African Maritime Safety Authority) sponsors 16 students. SAMSA is also the chief sponsor of the SST Sea Pledge Tour.