World Oceans Day in Yoff, Senegal, with kids questioning fishers about marine ecosystems

Kids of the Primary School El Hadj Talla Diagne gather in front of the Mundus maris banner for World Oceans Day 2017The local fishermen's committee, part of the National Collective of Fishermen in Senegal (CNPS), and the El Hadj Talla Diagne primary school celebrated World Oceans Day on 8 June 2017 in the fishing village of Yoff.

The fishers wanted use the Day for a clean up of the beach as a mark of their respect for the sea and recognition of its importance for their livelihoods. The beach had acculated unhealthy levels of pollution with household waste such that the fishers under the leadership of one of their members in the Environment Committee of the municipality decided enough was enough. This situation of insalubrity created manifold negative impacts directly felt by the population, for example difficulties for the fishers to repair their nets on the beach.

The extent of littering was such that even the favourite sport of the young people, beach soccer, could only be played with difficulties. Thus the call for the beach clean-up met with a good response. Afterwards, the group of young people between the ages of 10 and 12 years helping with the clean up took immediate advantage by playing an unimpeded match.

This cleaning operation took place early in the morning between 9:00 and 10:30 despite ramadan. Subsequently, with the coordination of Mr Mamadou Mbaye, chairman of the local fisheries committee, the local committee, in the presence of the president of the Mundus maris Club - Senegal, met under the shelter arranged on the beach. The shelter is the meeting place for fishers, where the discuss all problems of the community. The aim of this small meeting was to prepare the arrival of the pupils of El Hadji Diagne school.

What did the school contribute? Indeed, this school, which wanted to celebrate June 8, World Oceans Day, for the first time had the following programme:
1. It started with a meeting of its pedagogical team under the supervision of the director Mrs Ndiaye;

2. During a preparatory phase for the descent of the pupils onto the beach to meet the fishermen these young people have prepared their burning questions and which they intended to pose, in particular the pollution of the littoral. During this session, students divided up the questions;

Fishers posing for a picture before exchanging with pupils about the ecosystem approach to fisheries on World Oceans Day in Yoff3. A briefing of the pupils participating in the day: explanation in class about why World Oceans Day is organised. This part was assured thanks to the unwavering commitment of the teachers Messrs Dial Samb (master of CMI) and Pape Ndiaga Wadj (master of CEII). It was on this occasion that the inspirational text (designed for the needs of the international youth contest on the Mundus maris website) was explained by these two teachers. This was followed by a drawing session by the students on the topic of pollution of the oceans;

4. Another part of the celebration was devoted to an innovative tripartite exchange between teachers, pupils and fishers about the teaching materials of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF). This sequence took place in the shelter of the fishers.

The exercise benefited from the facilitation of the Mundus maris representative, who had contributed to the development of the teaching kit. He explained the key principles of EAF and illustrated by means of the fish ruler the importance of respecting the minimum size at sexual maturity of the target fish species if we want to make the fishery a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable activity;

5. Finally, to close the day, while they were in the shelter of the fishers, the pupils asked their questions, which were answered by the fishers. Whenever necessary, the representative of Mundus maris provided explanations to some technical questions relating to the EAF. He illustrationed the replies with examples to make sure they be understood by the pupils.

The pupils chosen by the school to ask these questions were: Fatoumata SY, Bousso DIOP, Ndella NDIAYE, Ndeye Maty GAYE, and Khady DIALLO. They were all girls. The latter is the "Minister of Environment" within a "government" set up within the school. As a reminder, El Hadj Talla DIAGNE school is part of three pilot schools in Senegal where "governments" are set up with a president and ministries.