Nearly 2,500 community members increased their environmental awareness of protecting their natural heritage through activities aimed at supporting seabird conservation in the transboundary Grenadines archipelago of the nations of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada. The work was done by EPIC in partnership with a local organization, Science Initiative for Environmental Conservation and Education (SCIENCE).
Among the seabird conservation issues addressed were the impacts of burning and overgrazing of uninhabited islands and the poaching of seabirds and eggs. Marine pollution, especially plastic pollution, was also addressed.
Given the direct connection between fishers and offshore islands, outreach was focused on fishing communities. To date, events have taken place on Bequia, Mustique, Union Island, Mayreau, Petit Martinique, Carriacou, Canouan, and mainland St. Vincent and Grenada. Activities included school presentations, community displays, monthly press releases to local and regional media, radio and television interviews, a film, fisherfolk meetings, a waste to art contest, and one-on-one discussions.
A highlight of the outreach was the seabird mascot Terry/Terri the Tern. Children of all ages were drawn to the mascot and quite naturally interested in learning about the bird’s plight. Students were also given the opportunity to wear the costume, further helping them to identify with the conservation icon.
Outreach activities, while intended to disseminate information regarding seabird and biodiversity conservation, were also aimed at gathering data to inform other aspects of the project. For example, many fisherfolk informed project staff about the value of seabirds to their industry. They emphasized that seabirds very often helped them to locate fish. One fisherman stated that he “depended on seabirds 90% of the time” to locate his catch. Another fisherman spoke of many days without fish until seabirds showed him “a bumper catch that almost sank his boat.” Others told of the reliability of different species of seabirds in “pointing out” different species of fish. The Brown Noddy is a favored and trusted seabird among fishermen. They mentioned time and again its dependability in locating fish. They also spoke of the reliability of birds such as the Magnificent Frigatebird in forecasting the weather.