We are so excited to have an Ocean Ambassador from the African sub-continent on board with PCFML! Esther Shemdoe is the founder and Director of Local Solutions for Biodiversity Conservation (LSBC) based in Tanga, Tanzania. LSBC addresses marine pollution and destructive local practices through working side-by-side with local people to educate them on the importance of a healthy ocean.
Why do you want to be an Ocean Ambassador?
Through my organisation I have managed to create environmental awareness regarding ocean conservation. We facilitate marine conservation around dynamite fishing, which is strictly prohibited in Tanzania and organise monthly Beach Clean Up events involving the community, with which we have so far succeeded to collect 2100 tonnes of trash!
What are the major issues facing your coastline and community right now?
Unfortunately, we see a lot of illegal dumping of waste into our ocean, including fishing nets and hazardous waste from hospitals, and of course plastic items like cigarettes and bottles. Additionally, we are battling dynamite fishing and the collection of corals and shells, mangrove deforestation, erosion and the general over-exploitation of marine resources, just to name a few.
That is why we are running our marine conservation and urban waste management project. Our aim is to create awareness in society and in the use of eco-friendly products and to improve waste separation and management process in the community. We also want the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities to be respected, preserved, maintained and used to transform the community towards a positive mindset for environmental conservation and sustainability. Hopefully, in the future, tourists can see the beauty of our clean beaches, which would mean economic growth and other opportunities for our community.
Who are you currently working with?
I am working with my two team’s of 14 and 30 permanent volunteers from different areas of the country. We are also involving Tanga City Council and Tanga Marine Park. Additionally, our programs offer direct employment to youth through selling recycled waste to recycling companies and the making of compost manure from biodegradable waste. We provide training to groups of youth on how to make a compost, proper packaging and promotion of product to farmers. I want to train and teach as many young people as I can about this issue.
This kind of initiative is new in my region. We are supported by the community and have succeeded to achieve a more ocean friendly behaviour by the fishermen and their families, which will help our marine species for the next generations.
What are the challenges you currently face?
We struggle to find adequate funding to support our programs. We need more businesses and instututions to come on board in Africa and elsewhere to support our work!
We’re really excited to be Positive Change for Marine Life Ambassadors and hope that we can work together to create long-term positive change for our community and the ocean in Tanzania!
You can find Esther and LSBC on Facebook or via e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Photography © Emma-Kate Williams