BIRDS, PLASTIC & CONSERVATION: A CONTROVERSIAL AD…
Rolling Harbour is a broadly neutral territory. We occasionally do ‘opinionated’ round here. We are not afraid to express views. But we try to avoid controversy and in particular, politics in its broadest sense. There have been occasional lapses into outrage – one example was the huge cruise ship taking a shortcut (allegedly, I had better add) that trashed significant areas of irreplaceable coral reef and smeared poisonous anti-fouling paint along the seabed, affecting reef life for decades and… Stop me right there!
The most sensitive area is conservation. Some issues are straightforward; with others the balance of what is right and wrong is more debatable. One particular aspect that can be problematic is in the presentation of information. We are all familiar with charity appeals that cajole with images of happy children or sweet puppies. We also see the ones with horrific images that are uncomfortable or even downright unpleasant to look at. Both can be powerful and valid ways to raise awareness and attract support. Some of the more extreme images used may actually have the effect of repelling people. The same is true with conservation projects. There are ones illustrated with images that make you go ‘ahhhh’ and smile; others are undeniably distressing and will make you wince with uneasiness.
Piping Plover photo taken at GTC Abaco by Tom Reed for Conserve Wildlife NJ
A graphic image by Ian Hutton (UW) of a dead shearwater crammed with plastic debris
See how you react to this 45 second video from Australia. It is made by Greenpeace – itself a controversial organisation in some eyes – and concerns Coke, plastic and birds. I had no idea what to expect, and it gave me a jolt. It has been the subject of legal action, of alleged censorship and interference from powerful lobbies, and a sizzling amount of anger. It won’t take you long to watch it. Compare how you feel during the first ten seconds with how you feel 30 seconds later…
‘MEN AT WORK’: CLEANING UP MAN’S DEBRIS IN THE OCEAN
I keep an eye on the websiteSCUBAZOO. As ever, the alert ABACO SCIENTIST (highly recommended to follow) has beaten me to this latest post from Jason Isley, diver / photographer and creative thinker. He demonstrates the wonders and (human) blunders of the deep with wit and style. In the gallery below, he tackles the issue of man’s pollution of pristine waters. In a simple way, he manages to use humour to get across a message that can easily become obscured by lengthy sermonising. See what you think.
Here’s a report I’ve turned up, which may well be of interest from a crawfish conservation viewpoint. And it’s also an excuse to post the excellent campaign song, which needs no added comment from me – see video below. The campaign slogan is… a delight. The Rare Planet website is well worth a rootle round – click the link below
Campaign manager: D’Shan Maycock Partner: Friends of the Environment
“When D’Shan Maycock launched a Pride campaign to rally her community around protecting marine life off of Abaco Island, she didn’t necessarily imagine her slogan becoming part of the daily lexicon for fishers, students, international conservation organizations, and even the Prime Minister. But thanks to a catchy phrase – Size Matters – and the idea of the locally-treasured crawfish shrinking due to overfishing, her campaign has caught on everywhere.
Crawfish are an important species for the biodiversity of Abaco Island, providing 60% of the total commercial fish catch and sustenance for other marine life in the region. However, due to unsustainable fishing practices and lack of local awareness, each year’s crawfish yield declines in numbers, total poundage, and average size. D’Shan discovered a heavy incidence of illegal fishing of juvenile crawfish, as well as a dearth of the formerly large crawfish that lay many times more eggs. There are 5 national land and sea parks around the island, yet it is a challenge for law enforcement to manage every landing dock. Community support is critical. So D’Shan has gotten creative.
Progress on the campaign…
• Secured pledges from local fishers not to catch juvenile crawfish under 5.5 inches – their yield monitored through a new certification process
• Built awareness among key influencers and the general public about the importance of protecting juvenile crawfish
• Garnered the attention and support of high profile players in the region, including The Nature Conservancy, which is interested in taking the certification process to other islands in the Bahamas, and the Bahamian Prime Minister, who at a recent All-Abaco Expo on Food Security, called out the slogan of the campaign and pledged ongoing support for fisheries protection
(To whom thanks for this… but, hey guys, your ‘CONTACT’ page only gives long-distance phone numbers (wot no email?) Are you ok with me using this? If not please ring +44 763549390 between 19.00 and 21.00 and ask for ‘Tarquin’)
STOP PRESS: here is a news clip about the new campaign mural in M H, posted by campaign manager d”Shan on The Abaco Scientist
Caroline Stahala, a scientist from Florida, has spent some years studying the endemic parrots of Abaco. The Club is a convenient place from which to carry out some of her research. Evidence is growing that these protected parrots may not be a variant subspecies of the Cuban parrot, as previously believed, but are actually a species in their own right deserving their own distinct classification. Such a finding would be of major ornithological importance, and would further secure the protection of these beautiful birds and their habitat. This in turn will help to prevent the decline in their already small numbers. I hope to post news of Caroline’s research into this year’s parrot breeding season which begins next month
CLICK LINK on BLOGROLL in SIDEBAR -—›››PARROTS INTERNATIONAL for Caroline’s Thesis