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The activities of Mundus maris asbl and its partners to celebrate World Environment Day (5 June) and World Ocean Day 2022 (8 June) started already in May with raising awareness in two classes at the Colegio Bilingüe Báltico in the Veracruz Province, Mexico. The UN motto for this year 'Revitalization: Collective Action for the Ocean' is particularly stimulating and timely in the light of several major reports published in the last few months and painting a gloomy picture of greater negative impact of human action on the ocean than expected. Having said this, the research also shows that much worse can be prevented by determined collective action, e.g. weaning us faster from fossil fuels and delivering the deal in the World Trade Organization (WTO) to finally phase out harmful fisheries subsidies.

In Mexico, we supported a broad alliance composed of Limpiemos Veracruz, Kayam, Decididos, Ecosendero, OPEVER and Colegio Bilingue Báltico in the municipality of Alvarado in Veracruz Province. Maria Soledad Logozzo coordinated the different contributions on site by the partners to this initiative. They started out with producing an attractive series of informative slides to illustrate to two classes of secondary school students why it is so important to care for the ocean. The students were all eyes and ears and followed the presentations attentively. 

   

The students were then invited to test their newly acquired knowledge with a quiz provided by Mundus maris in collaboration with students at the Belgrano University in Buenos Aires (Spanish version here).

This was part of a wider initiative to draw the attention of citizens across all generations about the threats widespread plastic pollution, particularly micro-plastic was posing to marine life in the ocean and the lagoon bordering town. The campaigners also explained that such environmental pollution was negatively impacting public health. That was a good preparation to pass to action on the ground for a beach cleaning drive announced widely through the poster below for 28 May 2022.

And come they did from the youngest to the grandfather generation. And unfortunately, in a short time in the tropical sweaty climate, they collected really substantial amounts of garbage from the beach.

   

Special arrangements had been made to ensure that the garbage was properly picked up and disposed off to honour the clean-up effort. The hope is that more people realise that preventing the pollution is the way to go. A big thanks to the volunteers of the awareness campaign and particularly those facing down the garbage on the beach.


All eyes on WTO in Hilden, German

With World Ocean Day, 8 June, and the beginning of the 12th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva around the corner, it was an opportunity not to be missed to inform more broadly about the importance of phasing out harmful fisheries subsidies and thus stop spending tax payers' money on funding industrial overfishing of the ocean. Having missed the deadline of 2020 to deliver on their mandate, target 14.6 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), expectations are that WTO finally cuts the overdue deal and reports progress to the UN Ocean Conference, taken place shortly afterwards in Lisbon, Portugal, from 27 June to 1 July.

Mundus maris is part of a very large alliance of civil society organisations following the negotiations in the WTO since several years and mobilising public pressure to achieve a substantive deal. We reported repeatedly in our monthly newsletter. The alliance supported the Chair, Ambassador Wills of Colombia, and the new Director General of WTO, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former minister and environmental sustainability advocate born in Nigeria, through countless public actions, media campaigns and comments on draft treaty texts. Why is a WTO deal so crucial?

Because few governments with substantial long distance fleets spend about 22 USD per year of tax money to prop up oversized fleets stealing dwindling resources particularly from developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Only a small percentage of subsidies goes to coastal small-scale fisheries in such countries, which provide for about 25% of the fish food from the ocean. It is clear that despite their important role in local food security these small-scale fishers are no match for industrial fleets fishing for subsidies. These subsidies finance infact overfishing operations, which have already much reduced global catches since the mid-1990s. Without the subsidies, probably half the industrial fleet would not be economically viable and stop, thus giving resources a respite to recover and even saving the future of small-scale fishers and their catches. Moreover, recent research into the particularly harmful industrial bottom trawling industry has shown that not only does it destroy essential habitat on the sea bottom, but also produces CO2 emissions likely higher than the aeronautics industry! At a time, when giving up our addiction to fossil fuels is entering the center stage of public conscience and societal debates, maintaining fuel subsidies for such industries feels completely fallen out of time.

   
   

On Saturday, 4 June, Mundus maris organised an information action at the town centre in Hilden, Germany, drawing attention to World Ocean Day and the urgency of WTO to deliver on its mandate to releave public finances of these harmful subsidies. While not a major fishing nation and rather a huge net fish importer, Germany provides more subsidies to its industry than the catch is worth. It is thus aggravating the poor state of resources and drawing on the public purse already strained through multiple crises and at risk of making cuts to budgets to the socially and economically vulnerable. The European Parliament has recently supported a motion against bottom trawling. Supporting a deal in the WTO would be a logical next step, especially as the reformed EU Common Fisheries Policy prohibits overfishing.

Many people took advantage of the good weather and the relaxed mood before the long weekend of Pentecost enjoying outdoor cafés or just strolling in the pedestrian zone, where we had set up Finlay, the WTO campaign mascot, next to a fish restaurant. Especially the younger ones were quite open to a discussion taking the event flyer and asking for more information.

The regional newspaper Rheinische Post reported on June 7 about World Ocean Day challenges and how Mundus maris responds to them with an article in the local section and a teaser on the front page.

 


Clean-up along creek in Hilden, Germany

Awareness creation is essential, but it's even better in combination with some practical action.

We had done some prospection to see where best to plan our clean-up effort in and in the vicinity of a local creek connected to the river Rhine. From the bike the paths for pedestrians and bicycles looked quite reasonable. So we planned for a long walk along the Hoxbach creek for Saturday afternoon, 4 June, in support of World Ocean Day.

The municipality provided us with some materials, like special collection bags and grippers. We added face masks, protective gloves and a couple of longer grippers not to bend down so much and off we went in the early afternoon.

Once at it, we discovered at a closer look that there was a lot more garbage around than anticipated. Cigarette butts need to be picked up one by one. That takes time. And there were lots of them from the major brands, particularly on a large parking lot next to blocks of housing and a former school.

Even from the creek itself we extracted some garbage like nappies and plastic bags (very few though).

In the end, in about two and a half hours we collected six (6) kg of garbage. The vast majority of objects thrown carelessly away were indeed cigarette butts, face masks and all kinds of wrappings for sweets.

The numbers of butts thrown away suggests the smokers are unaware of the fact that cigarette filters contain more than 100 toxic substances after use and can kill fish, especially in smaller volumes of water. One of our group was a smoker herself, but she always carries a portable ashtray along if she wants to smoke. That should perhaps be promoted more insistently to prevent the poisons spreading in the environment.

Some people we met on the tour stopped to encourage us. One grandpa praised us in front of his grandson asking what he had learnt in school about the issue. The boy said, 'oh we learn how to separate garbage by category and dispose of it in different containers'. Grandpa: 'ok, that's a good beginning. You should also ask the teacher to explain why the ocean is so important for our health and wellbeing, how things are interconnected and we need to be more protective to water and nature in general.'

A second clean-up action was conducted on Saturday, 11 June. It shall focus on another section of the local creek. Meeting point was opposite the Naturhof, corner Marienweg/Gerresheimer Straße at 14h30. Registration welcome at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A small group of neighbours responded and carried out a clean-up along the next stretch downstream collecting 12 kg primarily of plastic garbage, again an even greater number of toxic cigarette butts, but this time also shoes, a broken plastic helmet for bikes, cans, face masks and lots of plastic wrappings. In the creek itself we collected plastic bags, a jacket and some bottles. We were happy to make our contribution to prevent particularly the plastic from draining into the river Rhine and from there into the ocean. The visual pollution in the lush vegetation along the river banks and paths was low compared to the garbage sometimes found around glass or paper containers in bigger cities or central collection spots. Nevertheless a closer look still generated several kilos - a considerable quantity when thinking of the low individual weight of cigarette butts which made up the overwhelming majority of items. We agreed that there is room for improvement.

So, in the end, we were quite happy for our contribution to the prevention of at least some of the plastic and chemical contamination.

The regional newspaper Rheinische Post reported on June 16/17 about the clean-up activities for World Ocean Day.


World Ocean Week in Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria

Dr. Lydia Adeleke pulled again all straps to organise an engaging programme to celebrate the ocean and honour the UN motto for World Ocean Day 2022 "Revitalization: Collective Action for the Ocean".

Together with Prof. Fagbenro of the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) she enrolled the collaboration of Mundus maris, interested FUTA staff and Aquaworld, reviving a successful alliance from last year.

It started out with a plastic creativity challenge for high school students to turn plastic garbage into a creative object. All entries were to be auditioned on June 6, at the Staff Seconday School.

The response to the announcement was quite good. Lots of students participated in the event that celebrated the winners. See pictures below.

The student challenge was followed by a webinar on 7 June centered around the UN motto. Speakers were Prof. O.A. Fagbenro, Dr. M. Lydia Adeleke, and Paul Ayomide Eweola as youth adviser for World Ocean Day.

More action was on the menu for World Ocean Day, 8 June, itself with an early morning Clean-Up Fiesta starting at the FUTA car park.

Combining education, learning, creativity, incentives, practical action and fun is the winning formula or World Ocean Week celebrations in and around the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), powered by Mundus maris and Aquaworld.

 


Webinar in Lagos for World Ocean Day 2022

The event on 8 June was organised principally by Fish Party and ably moderated by Prof. Stella Williams, Vice-President of Mundus maris. Students from the Lagos State University (LASU) had been explicitly invited as main speakers to underscore the importance of engaging young people under this year's UN motto 'Revitalization. Collective Action for the Ocean.'

The extensive introduction was delivered by Hunyin Boldowu of Fish Party. He reminded the participants of the immense importance of the ocean for the living conditions on our planet, including the economic benefits millions of people in Nigeria and the world draw from it.

He said: "This year, I will briefly discuss the revitalization of the collective actions of Fisheries and Aquaculture
students as it is the bonding point between us all."

He insisted that the urgency at hand was the reason why youths in Nigeria in this conference must act now to ensure that together we save this suffering ocean that has helped us so much up to now. We can do this in several ways.

Firstly, join actively Fish Party's innovation to see a changed and ocean-oriented world. This is very important because that helps to change status quo and ensure safety.

Secondly, and most importantly be a dogged advocate for the ocean. This advocacy may be go in various forms of actions, WhatsApp talk, door-to-door, ocean/beach clean-up and other engaging method to cause change. The emphasis is always on seeking the highest public impact so that increasingly effective collective action is taken for the ocean.

Let's pay back to the ocean!

Among the youthful speakers addressing the audience was Ololade Akingbola a student of fisheries at the Lagos State University (LASU) and Vice-President of the National Association of Fisheries Students, who has been active for many years in various initiatives on environmental issues and has a track record as a promoter of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of Agenda 2030.

Ogundare Taye Tobi has made a name for himself has a great participant in debates about the big issues of the day and also serve as a judge of quality debates so as to promote a culture of respectful debate supporting change for the better.

Akanbi Adeyembi Micheal is an undergraduate student of fisheries at LASU with an already remarkable record of academic and social engagements, who has already won recognition for his work inside and outside the university, always focused on achieving impact. He underlined the importance of involving young people and also gave some advice on how to overcome obstacles for the participation in collective action for the ocean, including bridging the digital divide and striving for good education.

Adeshola Kukoyi of the IGLE Training Network also contributed to the panel presentations.

Stella Williams then moderated the lively Question and Answer Session after the presentations which was indicative of the interest kindled by the speakers. The technical conditions were at times challenging when not all participants had stable network connections, but that did not dampen the enthusiasm.

The attractive invitation poster is below.