Today we have a special guest post
Last week my friend working in conservation in Fiji asked me if I ever heard of seagrass removal projects.. I said "no, I normally hear about seagrass restoration..but removal..never!". Turned out this particular resort was doing some quite illegal actions, which might be easier in some countries compared to other. So I decided that the least I could do was to give some space on my blog for her and her colleagues to explain. So here we go:
My name is Anastasha Savura and I am publicly releasing my CV to ensure the public knows that I am a Marine Scientist and I need assistance to ensure the Warwick Answers and Apologies for this Incident!
I am the Founder of the page Ocean Guardians Fiji on FB and would like to use social media bring people together to bridge this massive gap between science and policy in the biggest Economical Industries in Fiji. The goal is to develop an umbrella of frame works and guidelines to present to Fiji Tourism and Hospitality Association and other associated bodies so that this never happens again!
Although young and still an ocean of knowledge still to swim through, I clearly understand through education, working experience and volunteer efforts. THE ACTIONS OF WARWICK RESORT and THE ASSOSIATED DIVE SHOP on 25th October, 2018 was an Injustice to the Environment. How much Injustice? I am unsure about as they have not bothered to contact us to correct us otherwise.
In the link below you will find the incident report of that particular day and the events that follow!
On 25th October
On 26th October till date
And we slept on the matter and realized that we had to do something about this because it was wrong. One of the reasons given by the Dive shop owners for firing us was that “we should have handled the situation in a more diplomatic manner instead of sitting in the water to make the digger stop”,
…So on 29th October we both wrote letters:
Other Parties Letter here
We included a presentation I prepared to the Regional Director, a Mr. Sahaan who was on property and asked him to contact us so we could sit and discuss the matter.
We also included a copy of the Regulation of Surfing Areas Decree (which states that Warwick authorized a possibly Illegal activity)
We asked him to contact us so we could sit and discuss the matter.
It is 11:58pm, 1st November, 2018 now as I type this, we have not heard anything from the Warwick however the Associated Dive Shop has contacted us with a SHOCKING EMAIL
(We are now seeking Legal Advice… ) We now have an issue of job security in the diving industry for expats and local marine scientists and Dive Professionals. (How will this be addressed in the future?- Anyone?) Who do we count on to report such PADI dive shops?)
The Only people who care to engage and raise this issue are members of the public and ocean advocates from all around the world therefore your opinion and support will decide our next PLAN of ACTION.
We already are working on a way to ensure that the tourism industry is not affected by the emotion and detrimental social media posts already online by concerned guests by ensuring them that we will work on a way to ensure that this will never happen in any other resort but WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!
I am only 1 person and now have the support of WWF, Baby Pandas South Pacific and passionate advocates around the world. If you would like to support this cause, please support Ocean Guardians Fiji on FB https://www.facebook.com/oceanguardiansfiji/ and oceanguardiansfiji on instagram https://www.instagram.com/oceanguardiansfiji/ to help with the cause. Every bit of "talanoa" around this matter would help.
Vinaka with high hopes and crossed fingers, Anastasha Savura
Next time you are in a crowded place (city, shop, train. Whatever counts as crowded for you) please take a look around with the aim to observe. Do you also see what I see? Not only we are becoming fatter and child obesity has become a big problem, but people don’t seem to care about each other and surroundings anymore either. We have sedentary jobs, we eat overly processed things and we are generally out of touch with our environment. Some of us follow diets (which then become lifestyles) that are meant to bring us back to our prehistoric selves ( think of the paleo diet or raw food trends), then kill themselves st the gym because that is what our bodies are meant to do.
I do somewhat agree that eating natural and unprocessed as much as feasibly possible (sorry I cannot give up cheese...), but I also think that we should change our general lifestyle little by littleto get closer to nature, understand it again, and find our sync.
While not all of us can yet afford to give up our jobs to get into full time agriculture and country life (a world entirely without cities would be weird and utopic right now), small changes can be done to fit our current way of life. How about skipping the gym to grow your own veg instead ( depending on the size of the land you get you will get to move your body how it was meant to move for sure!). Go on a fishing trip, or if you are s fun, go hunting ( responsibly). You can even find some local farms where you can go picking your own fruit and veg.
What are the benefits of this? Not just a return to what our bodies are designed to eat and do, gaining general well-being, but also could bring societal benefits too. Firstly you might get a good feeling, having ‘caught’ (or grown) something for yourself, and we all know that happy people are general better people! The fresh air might also help you want to be outside more, making you healthier and removing pressures on health systems, also being outside makes us less stressed which also makes us less prone to chronic illnesses. Further, you may start to notice nature rhythms, seasonality, notice the insects or plant timing, notice what the rain does and what are the consequences of extreme temperatures. So we may start to care more, which may lead to better choices in other areas of our lifestyles. Overall a win-win situation...
If you follow a zero waste and ethical lifestyle you might also often shop organic. But... should you?
Firstly, entering an organic supermarket might trick your mind that everything inside is healthy. Think again: organic really is not the synonym of healthy. Even organic products can be full of unhealthy fats or full of sugars.
Secondly: you may think that is all ethical and will contribute to a better world. Well, wrong. Some ‘organic’ products have travelled for miles and miles, sometimes for no reason whatsoever as the same produce can be found in season growing nearby.
And organic labelling is not always that clear, with honey coming from mixtures of eu and non eu blends, just to give an example : what exactly does that even mean?! Where is it coming from ?
Not to talk about packaging - often as exaggerated and not recyclable, same as a normal shop..
Moreover, you may notice the same brands and big names in commerce through all of the organic shops, at least Europe-wide. This tells me that ‘organic’ is a capitalism-fuelling business.
I am somewhat lucky enough to have had some insights into organic certification. One thing for certain is expensive! So your local farm might still not use any chemicals or pesticides but may also not be certified as organic.
Moral of the story?
Don’t trust all that ‘organic’ shops throw at you. To be truly sustainable is important to use your brain and your own judgment.
Environmentalists who take actions are often either viewed as violent protesters or ‘all talk and no action’.
And this should not be the case. Apart from the fact that boxing people and ideas is rarely useful,I know many environmentalists who don’t fall into these categories.
But there is some truth in it, perhaps. Some scientists love to talk and talk, and do experiments, then more experiments. But nature is complex, models seldom model reality, experiments often raise more questions and scientists are somewhat afraid to make too bold statements that might affect their career and future (the academic system is to blame in my opinion here)... so we go to meetings, we present gloom and doom scenarios amongst other scientists, we are a bit afraid that the news will pick it up the wrong way so we choose our words carefully when speaking to journalists, and here we stop. Hoping someone will translate our papers into some actions..
Bloggers, and I will include myself, also have a bit of this no action attitude. Yes I believe that I am trying to educate, hopefully reaching a wide audience and show them easy steps to be more sustainable in an easy lifestyle way. But am I? Sometimes I believe that maybe with all of these social media filtering I am just getting to the usual people who already are plenty aware of the problems...
On the other end of the spectrum there are many activists that feel like they have to take a more active approach and end up taking disruptive actions. And here I would also like to include some big organisations and conservation societies. So I don’t blame the public which thinks ‘oh no, other tree huggers’.
But here comes some positive: you can make your voice be heard without being violent. But we can only do that by collective actions. Start writing to companies: you don’t like that a certain place doesn’t have recycling? Write to them. You don’t like that a certain shop doesn’t sell local options? Write to them! Too much packaging in that brand? Stop buying, and write to them. Perhaps one message won’t make them do anything, but if we all collectively start complaining actively but peacefully (and always respectfully) something will go through! At least I hope.
So.. Christmas (or the winter holidays to be more politically correct) is approaching fast, with all the stress of finding that perfect last minute present, making sure the fridge is stocked, last minute groceries shopping, ordering that turkey, catering for the vegetarians in the family..
the list of stressful things is endless..
And, let's admit it, these holidays tend to make the most of us fall into the consumerism trap.
I, myself, love this time of the year with the presents under the tree, and mostly I love to find the perfect present for my loved ones and that feeling of anticipation for them to open it (honestly I love giving more than receiving). This year will be extra special as I am going away to spend it with my partner's family which I will also meet for the first time, and I will visit a new country and a new city.. lots of new!
So, how can we ensure our holidays are a bit more ethical and sustainable?
Here are a few simple rules I live by:
Spoilers alert: if you have not seen the latest episode of blue planet and you are waiting for it then you may want to skip this. If, on the other hand, you have been touched by the ending then this is for you!
Plastic, it's everywhere. Anything we buy in stores has plastic one way or another, whether the product itself contains it (hey it's found in anything from your toothpaste to your clothes!) or is at least packaged with it. Moreover, it has multiple ways of ending into the environment: from the classic 'thrown on the ground', to more hidden 'windswept'. From transport (apparently 4 containers are lost every day at sea) to its end, plastic creates a problem.
Yes, we can do beach cleans, and yes we can pick up rubbish everytime we are out walking the dog but the problem is a lot bigger than that.
First of all, plastic and ocean plastic in particular is not just what we see washed out on beaches (which can already be a lot depending on where you are!) but it also is a great presence in the higher seas, being trapped in the conveyor belt of currents, and, as we have seen with the bath-ducks in yesterday's episode, can be transported in many directions as well as just remaining trapped in ocean gyres...
more than that, we have the visible plastic, but also invisible (unless you have a good microscope) one known as microplastic which can be as detrimental. And lastly all plastic degrades and leaves pollutants behind. These are persistent organic pollutants, which can act alone or in combination with other pollutants already present in the environment, with disastrous consequences..
These are in fact known to be endocrine disruptors, affecting reproduction and they are also fat soluble, which means they get passed up the food chain and can end up in mammalian milk thus affecting future generations of the ocean giants as we have seen in blue planet. And can you think of another fish-eating mammalian? One that inhabits land? Yes you are right: us! Our plastic will end up back to us...
This has the potential to affect our reproduction, not just causing infertility (in men as well as women!) but also affecting fetal development, and impacting their hormones which will have negative consequences for generations to come...
Surely, we shouldn't stop our good small everyday actions , including trying to go as zero waste as possible and reduce packaging. But we should ask for more from our governments and higher institutions, we should make demands, if not only to keep our planet healthy for the future generations, but to keep them healthy too!
I have been to this festival twice while I was living in Northern Ireland, where they came to Newtownabbey as part of their UK tour - however, the tour this year was in September and I already moved out of the country. I must say I was a bit upset about missing it... although after a quick search online, finding out that there definitely wasn't a Dutch version of it, I found the Belgian equivalent...and... I live right on the border!!!
Quickly I booked a ticket for their Antwerp show, with the intention of making a little weekend out of it... and here is where the story starts!
So what is this 'film festival'?
The festival is a tour of some of the films from the 'Ocean film festival Australia', which shows in March.
According to their 'about' website:
'At the Ocean Film Festival World Tour our vision is to inspire you to explore, respect, enjoy, and protect our oceans. Film is at the heart of the Ocean Film Festival World Tour and we aim to share the best films from around the globe with our audiences'.
How does it work?
An abstract from the site:
'Our vision is to inspire more people to explore, respect, enjoy, and protect our oceans. We are looking for a broad selection of films to fill a 2+ hour program that will tour Australia, Belgium, New Zealand, Italy, China the UK and more in 2018. We are searching for one long film (45mins to 60mins) and a number of short films (40 minutes and shorter) to make up our program.'
You can submit your own film
(... maybe for next year as the deadline for this year is approaching very soon)
At the Ocean Film Festival World Tour we are actively searching for films covering topics including ocean exploration, ocean related adventures, marine creatures, ocean related sports, ocean racing, coastal cultures, sailing, diving, rowing, free diving, surfing, oceanic environment, and ocean lovers.
The 2018 Ocean Film Festival tour will kick off in Australia in March 2018. The deadline for submissions is November 2017.'
Okay, so what did I watch and what did I enjoy most?
Firstly I have to say that I think that while most films seemed to be the same between the UK and Belgian tour, some are different. For example, I am a bit upset that the film 'Fishpeople' by Patagonia was not there! And I cannot seem to find it on the European ITunes (not yet anyway...) :(
This was replaced by '4 mums on a boat' , which I have already seen as part of the Banff film festival (a close relative...). Anyway, despite having already seen it, was not bad to watch again as it is a very interesting, motivating film where four 'mums' win the record for being the older team completing the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge , the toughest rowing event. Inspiring, showing you can do anything if you put your mind to it...
My favourites, however, in order were:
'Sea Gypsies' : as a sailing-loving girl, this film about sailing from New Zealand through to Patagonia via Antarctica was great! Not just adventure-filled but also about community of people that can form on board a vessel, and importance of being human and getting through some tough and scary times. Some funny parts, and they even attempt to help Sea Shepard! Recommend it 100%!
'Ocean rubbish' : in this film, David Day, an artist from Queensland picks up rubbish they found washed up on the shore and makes colourful yet surprisingly life-like models of all sorts of marine life, turning worthless junk into objects of beauty, and raising awareness of the ever-growing problem of plastic in our oceans. 3 Minutes of pure cool art made out of plastic - i'd be happy to have some of his models as art in my house :D
Haven : of course, a free-diving video could not miss Guillame Néry. Great shots of the largest wreck in the mediterranean down at 40-50 meters, all filmed by free divers.. pretty cool if you ask me! I wish I could free-dive to those depths, but I am content with my 8-10 m
Other films shown included 'the Legacy', with which I have some issues. A film about conservation of the oceans, which is great, and as a marine biologist I agree we should push for conservation. But, why only the conservation of the giant charismatic megafauna? Manta ray, sharks, turtle, dolphins, whales. Yes they have to be protected, but there is more to the ocean than them, and we should start pushing for conservation of the whole ecosystem...
Running.. 'what sport could be more environmentally friendly that something powered solely by your legs (and mind) ?' you may be thinking
Well.. you are right!
Yet there are still some impacts involved that could be reduced by being aware of them to try and reduce them as much as possible.
Running clothes are often made of technical fabrics promising to maintain optimal temperatures, keeping you dry and being breathable. This comes at the cost of being made of plastic and artificial fabrics, which will leach microfibres into the environment.
Solutions: buy natural clothes whenever possible, switch technical for cotton, bamboo, wool - they are very breathable and better for your skin as well!
If you are not ready to make the switch or are in real need of the 'technical' clothes then consider changing the way you are washing them! Read here for some great advice.
As a general rule of thumbs shoes should be changed every 300-500 miles, which may sound like a lot, but serious runners may get to this mileage quite quickly... which means a lot of shoes in the bin!
Solution: recycle them!
some impacts associated with racing events:
racing packs = often a lot of waste of plastic/papers in race intro packs, goodie bags (often full of 'junk' items that end up in bins)
water points = water served in plastic cups that end up on the ground shortly after being used
driving to races
Solutions: Try and choose wisely what events to attend, take everything home with you and sort it in various recycling bins, see if there are things worth keeping or giving away to a friend, try not to throw your empties on the floor, actually try not to leave any traces of you ever being there. Try and car share whenever possible, or maybe take public transport? See if they need volunteers to clean up after, I know, it may be the last thing you want to do but hey - you are doing something for the greater goods!
4) Wild running
Trail and nature - what could be best? I love my dose of trail running. However some risks include disturbing nature.
So: be mindful of where you are running, what are you likely to encounter? Stick to the paths to avoid stepping on potentially important plant species, be quiet (steps aside), be generally aware, read any signs at the trail entrance that may warn you of what and what not to do and most important: leave no traces!
Books.. to me they are like magical creatures.
I have always been an avid reader, and since I had been a child if I book catches me it doesn't let me go - not even to break for dinner! (I remember my mother having to literally take the books off me when it was time to eat).
Even now, when I enter into a bookshop I am fascinated, attracted by the graphics of the cover, catchy titles, that smell, that so-important font size, and aspect ratio of the book. Sometimes with books it's love at first sight - even before reading the little summary, you just know that's the one for you.
Whether is entering a good bookshop selling new books, or even better some used book fair, old old bookshop, or why not that quirky independent bookshop in the corner, there are some great feelings that come with it.
The best thing that happened to me this past weekend was getting to do yoga in a bookshop, a very nice, independent bookshop with cool displays, great colours, hanging old typewriters...
Yet, these places are at danger.
If they were not already endangered enough from the large library companies (thinking of La Feltrinelli and Mondadori in Italy, or WHS smith and Waterstones in the UK and other parts of Europe and similar), or from the fact that people don't read as much anymore (with other activities such as watching TV and playing videogames taking over their spare time), the internet and the buy-now-with-one-click-and-receive-tomorrow society that we have become is further burying these sacred places.
I admit, I am one of those people who owns an e-reader. I have to say, it is pretty handy for travelling (no longer having to drag with me a whole extra suitcase of books for the summer holidays abroad is a big advantage!) and for the time being living abroad and not speaking much Dutch it does make it easier. But it is a different feeling, choosing a book to read is no more a question of love at first sight, but an endless search through the recommendation based on previous buys from Goodreads or Amazon, which often result in half read books, which has never happened with a shop-bought book before! It is perhaps the fact that an ebook comes from so cheap that buying gets easier and 'throwing away (/archiving)' half-way also gets easier? Perhaps!
But as soon as I have a chance, I try to sponsor these small libraries, or anyway try to get in and find their (unfortunately somewhat limited) English section to see if my next love is sitting there waiting for me. And I try to smile at the owner, maybe have a silly chat, make them feel worth it. And breathe it in, with the nose, with the eyes, the books, the colours, the arrangement of the place, get inspirations, find ideas, look through that art book and discover something new.
I encourage you all to take a step away from your next amazon order and find your quirky corner bookshop!
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