Eco-Schools 8th Young People’s SummitOctober 5, 2017
We care about our future:
Caring for Our Seas
Eco-Schools 8th Young People’s Summit
4th October 2017
Literally braving the weather, 86 students from 19 schools yesterday participated in the 8th edition of the Eco-Schools Young People’s Summit held @ Fort St Angelo, Vittoriosa. Students of all ages were engaged in discussions about ways of promoting a more sustainable use of the oceans and their resources.
With two upcoming high-profile conferences about the vital role of seas: Our Ocean (5-6 October) and the European Marine Science Educators Association (EMSEA) Conference (7-10 October), Nature Trust FEE Malta once more felt compelled to provide students participating in the Eco-Schools programme the opportunity to voice their concern about marine related issues.
Climate change, Protection of marine life, Marine litter, Sustainable fishing, Energy generation from the sea, and the Effect on communities relying on the sea were amongst the themes discussed.
Several concerns were brought up and a number of recommendation were also made. These concerns and recommendations were collated into a declaration that was approved at the summit and presented to delegates attending two high-profile conferences – the Our Ocean 2017 conference, and the European Marine Science Educators Association conference – recently held in Malta about the vital role of seas.
Nature Trust FEE Malta said the declaration was an effort to give a voice to citizens whose future will definitely be impacted by decisions taken at these events. The declaration was also presented to participants at the public meeting entitiled Laudato Si’: Interfaith and Secular Perspectives on Care for Creation, held at the Millennium Chapel, St Julian’s, organised by the Church Environment Commission and Nature Trust Malta.
The following is the declaration:
We, the students of Eco-Schools, as responsible citizens of Malta, Europe and the world…
– are aware that the quality of life on our planet depends on our oceans;
– feel that our seas need to be protected and managed with care;
– are worried that there is a lot of talk about the protection of our seas, but very little effective action;
– are worried that certain decisions taken by adults are not protecting our seas effectively;
– would like to have a say in the decisions taken about our future and the future of our seas; and
– would like to present our ideas about how we can safeguard our seas.
We feel that Climate Change can be controlled by:
- reducing land-based CO2 production by:
- encouraging practices such as carpooling and the frequent use of public transport;
- increasing the use of bicycles and electric cars;
- encouraging the consumption of local produce to avoid food miles;
- encouraging the consumption of local fresh fruit/vegetables to avoid unnecessary food processing, and
- planting more trees.
- provide incentives that encourage the use of electric boats and environmentally friendly vehicles to reduce emissions;
- use the sea water turned at high speed by sea vehicles to create electricity;
- reduce the use of plastic bottles by installing water fountains in schools and public places; and
- develop and enforce a national strategy aimed at reducing emissions that cause climate change.
We feel that Marine Life and the communities depending on it can be protected by:
- developing and supporting a Commission made up of stakeholders and experts who will monitor and protect the health of our oceans. This Commission should also be funded to carry out research and innovation in this area;
- supporting small local fishing communities by:
- encouraging the consumption of more varieties of fish (and sea food) to reduce the importation of fish;
- controlling prices of fish (especially imported stock) to promote the consumption of locally caught fish;
- enforcing fishing quota, especially on industrial fishing, to protect endangered marine species;
- effectively stop the use of fishing methods that produce a lot of bycatch;
- encouraging fisherfolk to use long line fishing by introducing incentives, training programmes and providing grants to buy the related equipment;
- preventing oil spills by introducing safer procedures for fuel transportation when marine fuel stations and bowsers supply fuel to tankers;
- effectively stopping the killing of turtles, seals, sharks, whales and dolphins;
- developing schemes that train and encourage young fisherfolk to take up sustainable fishing as a full time job; and
- ensuring that nets have their owner’s mark. If the nets are lost or cut, owners would have to report their location so that divers can go and collect the nets. Enforcing this practice through inspections and heavy fines for offenders would help reduce ghost fishing.
We feel that Marine Litter can be controlled by:
- obliging cigarette companies to use biodegradable cigarette filters and to include a note about the responsible disposal of cigarette filters on the packet;
- truly banishing the plastic bag and other plastic items (e.g. straws and cutlery) that can easily be replaced by biodegradable materials
- banning the release of helium balloons and paper lanterns because of the threat they pose to marine (and land) life once they fall back from the sky;
- heavily fining or sentencing to community services or suspending the boat license of persons caught discharging waste, sewage and other waste water directly into the sea or in areas close to the sea;
- closely monitoring fish farms re waste they produce that has a negative impact on sea life and swimmers. Repeat offenders should have their operating license suspended;
- siting of fish farms away from bathing zones;
- organizing regular clean ups of the sea;
- involving the cleansing department and local councils to identify strategic points around the coast where to:
- install more waste bins. These bins should be covered to prevent waste from being blown into the sea;
- install collection points for the disposal of oil when doing boat maintenance. Also develop a log book to check that oils are dumped appropriately and in a controlled manner; and
- set up designated barbeque zones.
- having a task force of people that go around beaches and talk to bathers about proper waste disposal;
- monitoring groups who use the coast for parties and barbeques to ensure proper waste disposal; and
- developing an eco-label for cruise liners that promotes sustainable practices of sea travel and waste management (particularly of food waste).
We feel that to implement all these ideas we need to have:
- country leaders who show goodwill that goes beyond the boundaries of their country;
- educational campaigns for all the citizens about the care of the seas and its impact on our quality of life;
- the inclusion of marine education in school curricula, and
- the promotion and funding of research on finding truly sustainable technologies and practices.