PRESS RELEASE – Protecting coastlines always requires cooperation from entire communities, but for the first time in the Caribbean it will also require competition.
In this region, where some of the world’s most beautiful islands are connected by turquoise water, sandy beaches and vibrant coral reefs, the ECMMAN public awareness campaign competition brings communities together to sing out “This is Who We Are” to the beat of their country’s unique rhythm.
Each of the six island nations participating in the Climate-Resilient Eastern Caribbean Marine Managed Areas Network (ECMMAN) project recently launched an innovative campaign as part of the 2015 Conservation Awards.
These campaigns empower and educate local communities about marine area management by promoting sustainable use of resources, improving opportunities for fishers, supporting sustainable tourism, and reducing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters.
The winning country will be determined by a panel of judges, selected from ECMMAN partners, at an Award Ceremony in November 2015.
From lionfish frys and school trips, to radio trivia and beauty contests, campaign teams pair creativity and commitment to conservation with their island’s favorite events and traditions.
The campaigns are based on a uniting theme, “This is Who We Are,” and receive ongoing support from The Nature Conservancy and PCI Media Impact, with funding from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). Participating countries include Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
“The ECMMAN project helps coordinate human activity within designated coastal areas to protect nature, while ensuring those who depend on its resources have access to sustainable sources of income,” explained Dr. Sherry Constantine, The Nature Conservancy’s Project Manager for ECMMAN. The project began in 2013, and these midway campaigns are a remarkable strategy to inspire partnerships for future initiatives and teach the public how they can both help and benefit from coastal conservation.
Campaigns teams reach audiences such as government officials, tourism businesses, artists, schools, and residents of coastal and fishing communities. With banners, billboards, television interviews, and festivals, it’s safe to say everyone will learn something new.
“The implementation of these campaigns offers a fresh opportunity for the people of these vulnerable islands of the Eastern Caribbean to embrace the beautiful richness of biodiversity and the contribution of marine environments to sustainable livelihoods,” said Alleyne Regis, PCI Media Impact’s Regional Manager for the Caribbean.
“These campaigns are timely, and well suited to reflect strong oral traditions and other facets of Caribbean culture through music, theater, colorful mascots and more. Each country team is moving full steam ahead to better their neighboring colleagues as they compete for the best campaign! It is with great joy that we stand ready to guide and support all our country coalitions.”
As some islands enter the Carnival season, campaigns are enlisting their most popular artists to launch unique versions of the “This is Who We Are” theme song. Stay tuned to ECMMAN’s Facebook page for an upcoming music video series as new songs are released.
Each country received US $10,000 in seed funding to launch their campaign and leverage additional support through partnerships and fundraisers. In recent months, each country hosted extraordinary campaign launch activities:
Timed perfectly with the 13th annual cross-island swim from Nevis to Saint Kitts, the campaign launched with a large event to cheer on swimmers as they crossed through the Narrows Marine Managed Area. The event featured prizes, remarks from officials and an original dance performance, “Let’s Eat Lionfish.” The team recently hosted a Narrows Awareness week with local schools.
In Antigua and Barbuda, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission and the Nature Conservancy presented checks to beneficiaries of Livelihood Support Fund grants and enjoyed musical performances, such as popular Soca artist HardKnaxs’ version of the “This is Who We Are” campaign theme song. This July, at an ECMMAN summer camp in Antigua, students painted a mural celebrating marine life.
The Saint Lucia campaign launched with an open-air ceremony at Sandy Beach within the Point Sables Environmental Protection Area (PSEPA) on Earth Day, Wednesday April 22. In addition to several radio talk shows, the campaign team plans to host youth photography and video competitions that expose important issues in conservation. Most recently, a radio talk show featured the campaign and discussed fishing regulations with their listeners.
With something to make everyone happy, attendees at the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines launch listened to musical performances by Mark Cyrus, Keith Currency, Mentalis and New Starzz, and tasted lionfish samples passed out by a model painted as an endangered sea turtle. In June, a flash-mob in Heritage Square promoted marine awareness with a surprise dance performance.
The Dominica campaign launch, focused on recognizing the value of the Cabrits Marine Reserve, featured environmental presentations by school children and traditional dance performances. This July, the campaign team hosted a beach-clean up and trash bin painting competition and is planning an upcoming fishing competition.
With table displays of blackened, spicy and even live lionfish, the Grenada team held their campaign launch outside the Fish Market on Melville Street, St. George’s. They worked with creative partners, and declared “Marine Protected Area Awareness” as the 2015 theme for the national beauty-meets-activism contest, “Face of Grenada”.
In-Country Project Coordinator for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ms. Tasheka Haynes said “our campaign seeks to engender national pride, wide spread stakeholder participation and sustainable use of our marine resources. It is also focuses on how meaningful the marine environment is – economically, socially and environmentally – to our people.”
These campaigns are a novel way to engage the public about their role in environmental protection, and to create a regional impact.