- Graduate Students
The Sandals Foundation, Georgia Aquarium, and the University of the West Indies Discovery Bay Marine Lab have partnered to host a series of shark education training workshops to improve shark education and awareness among Jamaicans and strengthen marine life conservation efforts.
Between November 5 and 10 in St James, St. Ann, Westmoreland and Kingston, the training sessions will engage fishers, students, marine sanctuary managers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), academic institutions and environmental and tourism government agencies in understanding the types of sharks in Jamaican waters, the importance of sharks to the marine environment, and tips on how to conserve sharks.
“Generally, there is a significant need for public education on sharks in Jamaica. These gaps in education have led to the low priority of sharks for ocean conservation on a larger scale” said Dr Dayne Buddo, Jamaican marine biologist and Director of Global Ocean Policy at Georgia Aquarium.
“Public education on sharks is extremely important, especially in a country where, due to lack of awareness, the fear of sharks has caused a lack of strong public support for conservation and has resulted in attacks on sharks sighted near coastal areas by members of the public. By working directly with local fishers, students, government agencies, and fish sanctuary managers at these training sessions we can hopefully help change some of the negative stigma associated with sharks to aid in any conservation, and most importantly for people to realize the value of sharks to our marine environment and livelihoods,” Dr Buddo continued.
Thirty (30) persons will be trained as trainers in a series of workshops and will be equipped with learning tools and resources to continue outreach sessions and training in their local coastal communities and networks – reaching a further 300 people in the first year.
The first training of its kind in Jamaica, Dr. Buddo said: “Georgia Aquarium is committed to helping aquatic species worldwide, and that means going beyond our building to connect others with the ocean and the animals that live there. This partnership with Sandals Foundation and the UWI Discovery Bay Marine Lab is a big step in educating those directly impacted by the ocean and those who care about the ocean in their communities.”
For their part, the Sandals Foundation sees this latest venture as essential to building the capacity of key stakeholders in conservation efforts.
“Environmental education is key to the Sandals Foundation developing an appreciation and advocacy for our natural resources,” said Heidi Clarke, Executive Director at the Sandals Foundation.
“These training sessions build the capacity of a wide cross-section of our population to cement a deeper understanding, hopefully leading to the protection of these great creatures whose presence is a solid indicator of the health of our marine space,” said Clarke.
Georgia Aquarium, based in Atlanta, Georgia, is a nonprofit organisation and the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere committed to inspiring awareness and preservation of oceans and aquatic animals worldwide.
Over the years, the United States-based team has been working with the Government of Jamaica and local partners towards increasing marine conservation. Through research and development, the partnership aims to identify population dynamics specific to sharks in Jamaica and assist the Government of Jamaica with establishing policies and regulations for shark conservation and possibly a shark sanctuary in the country.
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Published on 04 Dec, 2023