“Our Problem, Our Solution” was the theme of this years’ 8th annual Lagoon Day. The event began in 2008 as an interactive, hands-on approach to raising awareness and educating our future leaders on the impacts that humans can have on overall lagoon health.
This year, the event took place on October 22 and 23 at the National Auditorium. Throughout the course of those two days, over 1000 students arrived by busloads. Students, and teachers too, were eager to learn more about our lagoon and to engage in discussions on how to protect our beloved waters.
As a presenter, I represented PICI and educated students on the ways in which people are impacting our lagoon. As a means of engaging students, Steve and I produced a short video showing three clips, each associated with a problem seen in our lagoon. The problems that I intended students to pick up on were: littering, over fishing, damaging corals, and eutrophication (increased nutrient levels) from livestock waste. Most groups picked up on the posed problem immediately and then even proceeded to note other problems that were not intentionally displayed. After discussing each problem, I asked students for possible solutions and they gave insightful and creative answers that showed promise for the future of our lagoon.
The students enthusiasm and awareness served as an educational experience even for me! I was excited and eager to learn more from our future leaders. I was particularly inspired by a group of four female students from Aitutaki. We engaged in a conversation, translated by their teacher, regarding the differences in our islands’ fishing practices and culture. The girls explained that their lagoon doesn’t appear quite as exploited as ours and suggested that Rarotonga establish and enforce more no fishing zones.
This experience reinforced the importance of inspiring and communicating with our youth. Countless students responded to the issue of over fishing with the mantra: “No fish, No future.” It is apparent that students are aware of human impact on lagoon health, so now it is up to all of us to ensure that we protect our waterways for generations to come!