Benguela youth network
South Africa
Event
World Fisheries Day 2021
The World Fisheries Day is celebrated every year on the 21st November throughout the world by fishing communities. This year the Benguela Current Convention Youth Ambassadors commemorated the day along with The Bukanindalo NPC, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS EL), Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (Monitoring Directorate) and The Trade Company in partnership with two schools: Lamani Primary School and K K Ncwane Primary School at Vuku Wetland, Gqeberha, South Africa, on the 19-22 November.
A recent United Nations study reported that more than two-thirds of the world's fisheries have been overfished or are fully harvested and more than one third are in a state of decline, because of factors such as the loss of essential fish habitats, pollution and global warming. World Fisheries Day plays an important role in bringing awareness to our communities in order for them to be reminded of the importance of protecting the aquatic environment as a habitat for our fish resources. This year, Bukanindalo NPC and BCC Youth Ambassadors once again demonstrate their commitment to cleaning up the environment and removing plastics litter from the Vuku Wetland and neighbourhoods. Bukanindalo NPC aspired to make an impact with their contribution against the negative impact through waste management on the environment and ocean.
Photo of the Bukanindalo NPC launch
On Saturday 20th November, World Fisheries Day was celebrated. Bukanindalo NPC in partnership with the BCC Youth Ambassadors and the two schools Lamani Primary School and K K Ncwana Primary School had a clean-up event at the Vuku Wetland in KwaZakhele. The program started in the morning when about 70 learners were raising awareness to the passing motorists by picketing with placards with informative messages about saving our environment. They got the attention of the drivers as most cars were responding with hooting in response to the learners while others were passing words of encouragement.
Photo of the Ka-ching and registration station
Thereafter, the learners were given gloves and plastic bags to start with the clean-up as the area near-by needed a lot of attention. The clean-up continued as the learners were assisted by other local kids and youth whom were close by. This became of interest to them when they saw that they would be rewarded for collecting waste. One of the stakeholders who were present there, the Trade Company which had a Bring Ka-Ching truck, were separating the waste according to categories and weighing it. Pickers were rewarded with Shoprite vouchers that they can use to purchase anything at the store.
Photo of the learners at the assembly point
The learners then went on an assembly where they were addressed by speakers from other organisations and NGOs. The Environmental Coordinator of Bukanindalo NPC gave a lesson on the importance of recycling using recycled items and informative placards. The learners showed a lot of interest to the lesson as they were participating during the presentation. The learners then gave a presentation on what they know about the coastal environment and its importance to their generation. It was a great presentation as each learner was presenting on different segments of the coastal environment with its surroundings. This demonstrated that the teachers are doing a good job in instilling the knowledge on the importance of protecting the environment they live in.
Facts on fisheries:

  • Small-scale fisheries (marine and inland) employ about 90% of those involved in fisheries.

  • 65% of the reported catch from inland fisheries is from low-income food-deficit countries.

  • Estimates vary, but from around 30 million to over 60 million people in the developing world are involved in inland fisheries; it is thought that about 50% are women.

  • More than 25% of the world's dietary protein is provided by fish.

  • The human population consumes over 100 million tons of fish annually.

  • Over 200 million of Africa's 1 billion people regularly consume fish and nearly
    half of this comes from inlands fisheries.
Event
International Coastal Clean-Up Day 2021
The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (Communication Directorate and Monitoring Directorate), and Benguela Current Convention (Youth Ambassadors) in partnership with Bukani Indalo NPA and WESSA hosted International Coastal Clean-Up Day (ICCD) with four schools: Solomon Mahlangu High School; V.M. Kwinana High School; Elufefeni Primary School & Seyisi Primary School at Brighton Beach, Gqeberha, South Africa, on the 18 September 2021.
Annually, on the third Saturday of September, volunteers around the world take part in the world's biggest coastal clean-up – the International Coastal Clean-Up Day (ICCD). The ICCD initiative remains the largest global volunteer environmental data-gathering effort and clean-up event of coastal areas to date. Clean-up and Recycle South Africa Week takes place from Monday to Friday prior to the ICCD, with various clean-ups being planned for neighbourhoods, water sources and beaches around the country. The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment's (DFFE) Expanded Public Works Programmes, (EPWP) such as, Working for the Coast, Working for Water and Working for Wetlands play a crucial role in ensuring that rivers, wetlands, and beaches are kept clean and in good health.
Bukani Indalo environmental official conducting an environmental awareness about ocean pollution
On the day of the event (18 September 2021), we had 86 kids in attendance. Registration took place in line with Covid-19 regulations. Thereafter, we did the welcoming and opening of the event. The Bukani Indalo environmental officials then followed with their awareness programme for the learners. They continued with the environmentally related games which all the leaners participated.

Mobile lab demonstration
After the games, the learners got ready for the clean-up. We then distributed the bags with a bottle and a t-shirt. Then the DFFE monitoring team started with the mobile lab demonstration. The kids enjoyed this demonstration, especially the high school learners, because they could relate a lot to what was said.
Learners cleaning the beach
We then continued with the program as we embarked on the beach clean-up. The learners were grouped with team leaders. This part of the event went very well as all the plastic bags were filled. The learners were enjoying the clean-up and were eager to continue, but we ran out of plastic bags.
Event
Webinar: World Ocean Week 9th - 10th June 2021
The event aimed to commemorate the themes of Ocean Conservation, Life and Livelihoods over two days, focusing on marine related risks and issues, causes and NGOs on Day 1 and various opportunities/solutions on Day 2.
Various sessions were held via Zoom, arranged by Fransina Shihepo and Tembisa Sineke of the BCC coordinating entity. It took place from 9:30 to 17.30 with a lunch break midway through the process. Three of the Ambassadors were present and hosting in Port Elizabeth/Gqeberha, the fourth remotely. The sessions were divided into several presentations and speakers. On average, 15-20 audience members were present per session. Each presentation occurred over an average 10-20 minutes, with 3-5 average questions received by the audience. Following the event, recordings were made available on LinkedIn and https://www.blueeconomyfuture.org.za (Youth Ambassador Jack Dyer's website) and made a significant impact, with over 750 views and downloads.
One of the Speakers, Alexis Grosskopf, from the Sustainable Seas Trust
The speakers spoke on a number of topics, including:

  • Data, Youth and Healthy Oceans
  • Marine spatial planning and ocean governance
  • Climate Change and Oceans
  • How to become an innovative youth and create recycled products
  • Conservation of coastal and other birds
  • Blue Economy
  • Business innovation in the oceans/marine sector as entrepreneurs
  • Marine protected areas and how to support them
  • The role of donating, volunteering, education and outreach programmes for conservation
Event
World Oceans Day 2021
The BCC Youth Ambassadors commemorated World Oceans Day (WOD) together with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (Monitoring Directorate), Research branch & communication directorate (connected virtually) and in partnership with Solomon Mahlangu High School, Uitenhage, Gqeberha, South Africa, on the 8th June 2021.
World Ocean Day (WOD) is celebrated annually on 8 June and has a history spanning over two decades. It was initially proposed in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Since then, WOD has been coordinated internationally by The Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network with global participation. It was officially recognised by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008 and is observed, since 2009, by all member states, including South Africa. WOD 2021 was celebrated by the world under the theme "The ocean: life and livelihoods."
Learners at Solomon Mahlangu High School
This year's campaign was targeted schools in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal and the Northern Cape. A range of awareness tools like virtual talks and creative arts were used to pass messages. During the virtual discussions, officials from the DFFE and other organisations covered several marine topics such as whale migration, plastic pollution, species conservation and functionalities of OCIMS. Schools that did not have the means or equipment to link to the talks were supported by DFFE with all logistics linking them to the virtual conversation.
Mduduzi Seakamela from DFFE on the topic on Whale Research
The main station of the event was held in Hermanus on 8 June 2021, the official day of World Oceans Day. Two hundred and fifty (250) learners were on-site in Hermanus, and four hundred and fifty 450 learners were watching virtually from their schools which hundred (100) were based in Solomon Mahlangu High School where the Youth Ambassadors were stationed. The programme consisted of talks from DFFE researchers and speakers from other organisations. The talks educated the learners about the importance of ocean conservation, tourism and the impact of plastic pollution.
Event
Virtual Classroom on board the Ocean Explorer by Zoleka Filander
There was a planned virtual classroom on-board the Ocean Explorer (OceanX) ship by Zoleka Filander in collaboration with National Geographic Explorer and BCC Studios.
The Department of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries (Communication Directorate, Research Directorate and Monitoring Directorate), and Benguela Current Convention (Youth Ambassador & Swartkops Project Secretariat) hosted Solomon Mahlangu High School on the virtual classroom on-board the Ocean Explorer in Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha).
Explorer Classroom with Zoleka Filander
The host, Ms Zoleka Filander, is a benthic scientist in the Ocean and Coasts Branch and a PhD candidate who is currently taking part in an oceans exploration series called "OceanExplorers" produced by National Geographic Explorer and BBC studios; on board OceanX ship.

She is part of the four young people from different countries conducting marine science research work in the offshore ecology field and being a young female research cruise leader in expeditions off the coast of South Africa, Tanzania and Mozambique.

All four participants of the team are allowed to conduct a virtual classroom targeting schools in their countries and other countries. Zoleka was leading her virtual class on the day of 19th March 2021 at 16h00 hour. She was focusing on her professional journey, research work, marine science careers and showed some of the equipment she has been using on-board the ship.

BCC Youth Ambassador Seymour Siwa
There were more than thirty students at Solomon Mahlangu High School in attendance, including their school principal and class teacher. The program started on time 14h00 hour, as the school teacher and principal did the welcoming and opening remarks. Thereafter, the DEFF marine scientist from the Research Directorate Mthuthuzeli Gulekana gave a presentation on both Marine Awareness and Marine Pollution. The students participated well on the presentation by engaging with the presenter. As a BCC Youth Ambassador I then added on the importance of having youth involvement in such platforms, emphasising on the fact that even though they are a inland based school they could still make it in marine science career as long as they are determined and focused on what they want to achieve.
At 16h00 hour, we then connected to the OceanX Virtual Classroom with Zoleka Filander and two other South African schools, namely Gansbaai Academia and STS Lawhill Maritime Center, and the rest of the learners following on YouTube around the world. Ms. Filander started by welcoming the learners, and she continued by sharing the information in the equipment she is using on-board the ship to do her science work. She explained to the learner and further involved the engineer who was working on the machine. She then moved inside her working space where they control the machine and explained the processes to the students. Whilst she was still in her station, she dwelled on her career and her research work in details. As she did outside the ship, she involved the members of the team who control the benthic equipment.

The students engaged very well with Zoleka and our program director, asking various questions on Marine Science as a career, showing interest in Marine studies, and partaking in Marine related discussions. The school teacher and principal shared their gratitude for the program and showed interest in participating in any environment or marine related events that BCC Youth Ambassadors and The Department of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries will host in the near future.

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Our Passion
As Benguela Ocean Youth Ambassadors we are deeply concerned about the problems facing the marine environment including the sustainable usage of living and non-living marine resources and threats including marine plastic and other pollution; climate change, coastal erosion and overpopulation, illegal and unregulated fisheries; ocean governance and security, poverty, seabed mining, oil spill risks and other emerging challenges...
For example, South Africa is ranked as one of the most significant contributors to the problem of marine pollution, as seen in Table I. It ranks consistently as among the worst geographical concentrations of coastal marine litter of any Benguela region due to a combination of factors such as poor marine ecological literacy against waste and empathy. Every year between 90,000 and 250,000 tonnes of litter enter our coastline according to the UN Environment Programme. Over 80% is land based. Only 16% of plastic waste in South Africa gets recycled. It deters tourism, fisheries, shipping and ports, threatens water security and causes multiple damage and death to innocent species.
Global and local climate change also threatens the future of South Africa and the BCC's marine ecosystem resources. Regional climate change related trends already observed include an increase in sea surface temperature across the Benguela system, sea level rise in most parts of the system and a decrease in the winds that drive upwelling off Namibia in recent years, but a longer-term increase in those winds off the South African south coast. In particular the current very low biomasses of sardine, a key target species in both Namibia and South Africa, have forced the industries in those two countries to explore and begin to implement quite drastic adaptation options. Climate-related changes in wind, upwelling, sea surface temperature, productivity, oxygen levels, storm frequency, precipitation, freshwater flow and runoff patterns, may all have impacts on estuaries, inshore and offshore ecosystems. These changes are likely to affect resource and habitat diversity, resource abundance, fish behaviour and physiology, resource catchability, fish size and fishing opportunities and success, which in turn will affect commercial and subsistence fishing livelihoods and recreational fisheries and their associated industries.
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2020 Activities
Recently, the BCC Ocean Youth Ambassadors hosted an awareness event in Gansbaai on 18th December in partnership with the Department of Environment Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) under the Slogan "A Clean Sea is My Responsibility" which links with our 2020 theme of tackling marine pollution (with the hashtag of Youth and the Ocean). It was a beach clean-up campaign that highlighted the problems of nurdles and other plastic pollution.