Residents are educated about, and invested in the protection of their local marine wildlife
About the Implementing organization
Name: Whales of Guerrero Research Project (WGRP)
Year of establishment: 2013
Type of organization: Community-based association or organization / Legally recognized non-profit status / Community enterprise or business / Cooperative business / Public-private partnership
a. Targeted youth education programs clarify the ramifications of their actions as they engage with their local marine ecosystem. Youth have stimulating and memorable experiences that will allow them to explore options in community or policy mindset that will inform their daily decisions about how to live more sustainably. Workshops and programs about marine mammals and biodiversity (1-3/week, 10-week duration in 5 villages and cities) reach 2400+ children, ages 9-13, (at 12+ schools and 2 libraries). b. Whale naming/adoption program, on-going bolsters community pride and continued engagement with marine environment c. Annual two-day safe whale watch workshop for 50+ individuals features one ten-hour class day and one six-hour field trip covers on-water guidance and practice opportunities, safe boating pamphlets, whale and dolphin identification and behaviour guide-booklets, access to ongoing online resources, radio and phone support. d. Whale-spotting network, harnesses the interest of 80+ professional sport fishing guides, 250+ fishermen and 100+ foreign beach residents to provide year-round citizen reporting after successful completion of training e. Fluke matching collaboration between 90 high schoolers in Zihuatanejo and Sandy, Oregon. Students are trained in analysis of scientific data and are acknowledged in scientific presentations and publications. Program creates opportunity for Mexican and US teens to engage in a cultural exchange through scientific collaboration.
Oceans / Coasts / Wildlife
Type of Action
Protection / Restoration / Sustainable use / Mainstreaming into sectors / Access and benefit sharing / Pollution prevention, clean up / Awareness and education
Sustainable Development Element
Jobs and livelihoods / Food security / Water security / Health
The community was previously uneducated regarding marine mammals and ocean conservation. (<5% of the people knew that humpback whales migrate here and none could identify the 6-regular species of dolphin’s present.) A high level of education and subsequent sense of ‘ownership’ has strengthened the community’s ability to survive challenges that will emerge when stronger conservation measures are implemented including those that may impact local livelihoods and complex governance arrangements Locals are working internally and with the government to implement long term marine monitoring and protection. Declining fisheries will benefit from increased protection and an invested community will support new measures. Marine mammal entanglements and collisions will decrease as a result of safe whale and dolphin watch programs. Cross-cultural education and exchange programs bolster pride and awareness about the rich biodiversity present in this little-known region.
Sustainable Development Impacts
Children are becoming champions for nature and bringing home information to their households about the importance of responsible garbage management, the effects of pollution and why it is important to avoid using plastic when possible. This is forcing a change from within. Women are earning more via art sales than their fishermen husbands, which is helping to balance out gender equity in the community. Community members are motivated to consider the impacts that overfishing have on the entire food chain and are working together to find alternative solutions to live. As the community evolves and grows, they are taking into consideration the impacts that development has on the natural surroundings (e.g., building in and cutting down mangroves, driving trucks on beaches where sea turtles nest) as they come up with solutions on how to expand responsibly. Along with teachers and scientists, we bring in guest nurses and chefs to address nutrition, health and well-being in the community.
This project has focused primarily on a small (600-person) fishing village in SW Pacific Mexico. We have given workshops, done outreach events and reach out to a larger community of 500,000 people through media, handout and visual materials and public programs. An international community has been reached also through media and presentations. Our working model of community-driven science, education and capacity building would be replicable in any community and the target species could be any charismatic animal or impressive living specimen. Upon the completion of 5 years in Barra de Potosí, it is our intention to expand the program into surrounding areas and to exchange program ideologies with partners in Southeast Asia, Africa and South America.
The program has not yet been replicated in other parts of the country or other countries, but has been designed in a way that it will be replicable and effective in any community. The key to our work is working within the cultural framework of our host community and fostering productive dialogue about conservation and prosperity from within. Our annual program activities (beyond the scientific data collection and weekly education programs) are determined by the community. Flexibility, community-driven programming and cultural sensitivity fosters for rapid change from within and long-term success.
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