ALL plant and animal life forms include from the microscopic picoplankton to the majestic blue whale, the largest creature in the sea—and for that matter – the world.
Like all scientific disciplines, the study of marine biology also follows the scientific method. The overriding goal in all of science is to find the truth. Although following the scientific method is not by any means a rigid process, research is usually conducted systematically and logically to narrow the inevitable margin of error that exists in any scientific study, and to avoid as much bias on behalf of the researcher as possible.
Guyana has had its fight in this area, but there is hope.
The Pepperpot Magazine spoke with Felicia Collins, a Marine biologist who worked closely with the Guyana Marine Conservation Society (GMCS) on a project to monitor the wildlife in the Barima Mora Passage.
During the interview, Collins noted that the marine environment is one that is often overlooked, even though most Guyanese live on the coast.
“We don’t have the perceived blue waters as we would expect, particularly when we think about marine, in the light when we visit the seawalls of Guyana and we see the murky waters, we don’t think that it has much importance.
But people who live along the coast and depend on the resources from the marine environment [the fishermen] especially in the rural communities can tell of its importance in feeding their families and their communities,” Collins told the Pepperpot Magazine.
Collins made mention of the fact that if our marine environment were to be affected, the livelihoods of many rural residents would be severely impacted since they depend on the fishes of the sea for sustenance.
She noted that the ecosystems don’t exist in isolation, but it affects our existence on the coastland.
Benefits of the marine environment
Collins contended that more needs to be done in terms of education, particularly in the area of marine biology, to raise awareness about the vastness of the environment.
“Now we have expeditions where people are going out and they are documenting the species. We have dolphins, we have whales, sharks, but it is far off. As a result, we don’t hear about it, because it isn’t seen,” Collins contended during the interview.
Raising awareness of marine biology
During her interview, Collins mentioned the fact that more needs to be done to make the Guyanese community aware of what happens in marine and environmental biology, but more particularly the environment.
“First there needs to be research. We need to know exactly what is out there. It is, however, more important to document what we have, taking pictures and sharing with the public in a way that can be easily communicated, but more awareness campaigns based on research,” Collins told the Pepperpot Magazine.
“Guyana is a country of vast wonders. From the coastland to the hinterland regions, our lands are covered in vibrant forestry, mighty rivers and soaring mountains. However, we, the people, are not the only inhabitants of this beautiful land. Guyana is home to many animals and even some endangered species and we have to do our part in preserving and making this land safe for our wildlife,” she explained.
Collins underscored the point that if one doesn’t know what is there in terms of resources regarding marine biology, then abuse of resources is likely to occur.
“Fishermen tend to ply their trade in a destructive manner, which leads to the derogation of the ecosystem, and you can’t really fault people for that, because they don’t know what is out there. They are unaware that the little fish depends on the mangrove; in retrospect, folks need to be more knowledgeable,” Collins said.
She believes that the only way to protect the marine space is to introduce such topics as a part of the school’s curriculum to be taught in schools.
Additionally, by inculcating this subject as a part of the school’s teaching subjects, the country can produce citizens who are more responsible in ensuring that the environment is protected.
She highlighted some of the advantages in protecting marine space. These include preservation of the population, which according to her, is declining.
Collins believes that in the light of climate change, our ecosystem needs to be preserved to withstand devastating effects.
“We need more progressive policies, politicians with the actual will that want[sic] to preserve and conserve, but of course, it must be sustainable and practicable. However, we must prioritise and act with policy,”Collins noted during her interview.
According to a report from the World-Wide Fund for Nature (Guyana), report on Marine Biodiversity and Governance of 2014, published on their social media platform; it forms one of the components of the Marine Biodiversity and Forest Governance (FLEGT/REDD+) Project.