The Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF) has launched a new GoFundMe campaign for its flagship education program, Ocean Guardians, which aims to inspire a new generation of marine conservationists in Mozambique. The initiative combines marine conservation education, life-saving swimming lessons and extra Saturday activities like beach cleanups and ocean safaris to teach young people how to live with and protect the ocean.
The project was developed to address the fact that 60 percent of Mozambicans live close to the ocean, and most depend on it for their livelihoods, yet many of them do not know how to swim.
MMF is working with the coastal communities that represent the biggest threat to marine life to help change their perception of the ocean as being only a source of income and food. Over half of Mozambique’s population is under 18, so MMF’s Ocean Guardians are the decision-makers of the future. Through these lessons, the charity hopes to inspire and empower young Mozambicans to love the ocean, so they cherish the marine ecosystem and fully understand how important it is to sustainably use its limited resources.
Not only does MMF want to inspire its young graduates to conduct sustainable fishing practices but also to inspire positive conservation action in all they do. The initiative, run by the community for the community, promotes a positive relationship with the ocean and increases awareness of the threats to Mozambique’s unique marine environment while, at the same time, reducing the number of drowning incidents.
Mozambicans tend to view the ocean as something dangerous to stay away from. By the end of the program, these young people will have gone through extensive water-safety and ocean-swimming training. They even go on “ocean safari” to snorkel with ocean giants, such as whale sharks and manta rays. Inspired by this, many of the young Guardians have developed a strong love for the ocean. For example, one of the local instructors, Narciso Nhampossa, was not only one of the first to join the Ocean Guardians program but is also now one of the best surfers in Tofo Beach.
Since this project began in 2012:
- Over 1,900 young Mozambicans have learned about marine conservation
- 430 have learned to swim
- Seven local instructors have been trained
- Inhambane Province sent seven representatives to National Swim Championships in 2017
- Three graduates have secured internships within ecotourism
“We need the public’s support so that we can create lasting, positive change through this project,” says Mariana Coelho, MMF’s Mozambique country director. “We’re aiming to raise $10,000 USD to help continue the momentum and successes of our Ocean Guardians campaign.”
Marine Megafauna Foundation’s vision is a world in which marine life and humans thrive together and we aspire to attain it by saving threatened marine life. Our target group is marine megafauna, which is vital to the delicate balance of the marine ecosystem. When we protect ocean giants, we also achieve an umbrella protection for a wide variety of marine species. Consequently, we target coastal communities that represent the biggest threat to these species and, as a result, to their own food security. For further details, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. For information about local projects, you can also follow our Western Indian Ocean Facebook page.