by Quadri Blessing

This initiative by students of the Federal College of Fisheries in Lagos, Nigeria, is a continuation of our participation in the World Ocean Day Mundus maris contest, which brought and created the awareness and consciousness about having a healthy Ocean. We held a meeting with Prof. Stella Williams, Vice-President of Mundus maris, and staff of the College right after learning about our successful participation. We then decided together that we wanted to do something concretely for the ocean right at our door step.

The site, which was picked, was found to be habouring lots of waste, which the coastal Ocean have managed to push out to the jetty or habour. We thought of removing the garbage so that the litter wouldn't eventually be washed back into our precious water body.

We worked in collaboration with staff of the International Ocean Institute (IOI, Nigeria), who also helped in making the dream come true. They provided some of the materials like rakes and hand glooves, and helped in purchasing some refreshments for participants.

In preparation for the programme, letters where sent to ocean stakeholders like the Nigerian Institute of Ocean and Marine Research (NIOMR), the Federal College of Fisheries and the marine technology students community, Fishfulthinking Consult, ROTARACT CLUB (Oceanography chapter), Federal Department of Fisheries, Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Bond Fm, newspapers, the Recycle Point Nigeria-Est company (Waste Recycling and Social Benefit Project in Lagos).

Clean-upGroup01At the set date, 15 December 2015, 33 students from the college and some staffs, representatives from Fishfulthinking Consult and NTA were with us for the clean-up. We started with an ocean awareness walk from the school to the jetty. We arranged the students into four batches, divided into about 10 per group. We distributed life jackets for safety precautions. We started cleaning at about 12:30pm and worked for two hours. We found lots of non degradable pet bottles, water hycient, polythene bags, rubber flip flops, car bumpers, etc. We removed as much as 150 kg of pet bottle waste, which was lifted away on 24 December by Recycle Point Nigeria. As the recycling company was unable to come on the slated date, we could not remove all waste from the site at this time. But most of the waste was bagged and moved to another location, were it is easily accessible for proper removal.

The initiative will continue. We will be going to more places in 2016 for continued cleaning of our Ocean and saving the species whose habitats have been degraded or destroyed over time. Also, part of the vision for the initiative is to raise young minds in secondary schools to become Ocean ambassadors. We will write articles, which we plan to put up on a major website focused on environmental health and cleaning and submit them to the coastal division of the Ministry of Environment at state and federal levels. We want to encourage the government to act more in the direction of cleaning our Ocean and also help in the cleaning and clearing activities from time to time.

The Healthy Ocean, Healthy People Initiative is created to do the work and not just get involved in the writing and talking about Ocean cleaning and safety.