Data collection using racing yachts for onboard sampling and deployment of drifter buoys

Beyond facilitating access to hard-to-reach locations, sailboats also provide useful modes of transport for deploying scientific instrumentation. The boats can carry scientific equipment, both for deployment in the ocean, but also for continual measurement by sensors that are permanently onboard. The race boats’ speed means that data from different locations can be captured across short timespans, something which is not achievable by most research vessels. Yachts can also be used to pilot and test new research technology and techniques, such as technology that allows results to be shared in real-time, and the OceanPack – a device which records essential ocean data from aboard the yachts. 

 

In a racing context, carrying devices that take meteorological measurements is not only beneficial for science partners, but also for the race participants themselves, as it helps to inform and improve weather forecasts that will impact their own decision-making and performances throughout the race. 

 

Using racing yachts for data collection paves the way for the installation and deployment of measuring devices on other vessels such as fishing or commercial boats, as well as other sailing boats. 

 

 

  • Sensors and scientific instrumentation can be installed on sailing boats.
  • The high speeds that are achievable by sailing yachts enable the collection of data across short time spans.
  • Boats can reach specific locations to deploy drifter buoys or Argo floats.

Scientific devices were originally designed for use on large research or commercial vessels. This presented some technical challenges regarding their use and installation aboard racing yachts which falls beyond the scope of their intended applications. As the boats are racing yachts the devices needed to be resilient and also light.

Challenges included operating sampling devices in an environment where there is fluctuating power supply, constant exposure to corrosive humidity, and where operators (i.e. teams and athletes) face immense physical (and psychological) stresses. This meant the devices needed to be user-friendly and simple to operate so that individuals with little specialised training could use them effectively and efficiently under stressful and pressurised conditions. The Ocean Race is collaborating with manufacturers to advance the technology and enhance its reliability for future uses.

Awareness raising and capacity building on CBEMR amongst stakeholders in Lamu

Wetlands International commenced restoration efforts in Kitangani by bringing together a wide group of stakeholders. We engaged local communities through civil society organisations and the Lamu Community Forest Association (CFA), as well as Kenya Forest Service (KFS), the Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI), the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), and the Lamu County Government. 

[Kuto/Cherono/Elizabeth, please add more details on our engagement activities with these groups. E.g. did we collect socio-economic information from the site and wider landscape?  Did we discuss alternative livelihoods? Did we discuss the values of mangroves and benefits of restoration? Did we discuss why previous restoration attempts failed, etc?] 

These efforts resulted in a group of CBEMR champions that throughout the full process helped in creating further awareness, assisted in capacity building, in conducting ecological and social assessments, implementation and monitoring of restoration activities.   

Stakeholders were then trained on best mangrove restoration techniques, using the CBEMR approach. In collaboration with the Mangrove Action Project (MAP) and KFS, Wetlands International trained community organisations, government and county officials, forest managers, research institutions, academia from several universities, media and civil society from Lamu, Tana River, and Mombasa counties. From the communities, women had a 50 per cent representation, as it is them who are mainly involved in actual restoration efforts. 

Participatory and Holistic Approaches: The CBEMR approach is participatory and provides a holistic view of the landscape and the restoration process. It connects resource users with research institutions, the local government, national conservation and law enforcement agencies, and civil society and build on their local and expert knowledge. 

Gender Roles and Social Groupings: Women are key in mangrove restoration and conservation activities. Men, who are mostly breadwinners, spend most of their time fishing or pursuing other livelihood or economic activities and are therefore not keen on engaging in conservation initiatives. Gender roles and social groupings are therefore critical when planning mangrove conservation and restoration initiatives. 

Local Knowledge and Participation: CBEMR champions create awareness, assist in capacity building, undertake actual restoration activities, monitor restoration activities, and conduct ecological and social assessments, among other roles. 

Lamu has relatively well-established community-based organisations that have a growing interest in mangrove restoration. 

Capacity Building and Knowledge Sharing: There exist knowledge gaps in mangrove conservation and restoration within communities, conservation institutions, and research organisations. There is therefore need for continuous capacity building and knowledge sharing.

 

Establishing a set of race regulations that places science at the centre of racing activities

The Ocean Race Teams Sustainability Charter and Code of Conduct was co-created with the teams to express a fleet-wide commitment to sustainable operations and supporting a healthy ocean. The charter includes themes of Advocacy, Science, Learning and Operations. It seeks to get all teams, staff, and sailors to stand up for the ocean through sustainable sailing, team, and personal actions. 

 

On the science front, teams must pledge to agree to:

 

  • Supporting science-based decision making.
  • Participating in increasing knowledge and understanding of our ocean.
  • Hosting scientific equipment onboard.
  • Participating in sailor and citizen science programmes.
  • Contributing to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science in collaboration with The Ocean Race.

 

Including science within a charter and requiring stakeholders to undertake various science-related activities whilst competing in a sailing race embeds science, as a core value, into race practices. This is unique in the sporting world as it requires teams and athletes to take on environmental responsibilities as well as their existing sporting responsibilities.

 

  • Awareness of climate change and the importance, and fragility, of oceans. 
  • Desire to protect oceans and sailing’s ‘racetrack’.
  • Understanding the importance of data collection for climate and ocean science.
  • Desire to use sailing and racing beyond sporting objectives, as a platform for scientific research.

Collaboration is key, everyone needs to take part and be responsible for a better future for all. 

 

Engagement with the teams, partners and host cities  needs to be early on and there is a need to support them in their journey - not as an afterthought or last minute addition. There needs to be someone within each team that is dedicated to Sustainability and maintaining the Sustainability Charter within their team and department. It is important not to underestimate the amount of work needed to maintain the Sustainability Charter and our sustainability goals - assign enough resources!

 

In an event like The Ocean Race, there are also challenges due to unpredictable circumstances like boat repairs from dismasting or collisions which can increase the footprint and environmental impact of the team and the Race. It is important to have some extra capacity and contingencies to offset unforeseen circumstances like these. 

A unique racecourse that provides access to geographically extreme and data-sparse areas across the planet’s oceans

The underlying premise for The Ocean Race – racing to circumnavigate the world – means that the race naturally takes competitors to some of the most remote areas in the world. This makes it a unique platform for undertaking scientific research as it gives scientists access to remote areas, such as the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, that would otherwise rarely be accessible. Ships sailing outside of regular shipping routes play an essential role in the ability to deploy scientific instrumentation, such as the drifter buoys and Argo floats that are deployed during the race, across under-sampled locations. This affords rare opportunities for gathering data from parts of the planet where little information has been recorded, making the Race a crucial platform for collecting data that is otherwise unattainable and filling data gaps, contributing to furthering our understanding of our oceans. 

 

  • The underlying premise for The Ocean Race – circumnavigating the world as fast as possible – means that the race will invariably take boats to areas that are infrequently sailed. 
  • The design of the race route (race legs, race stopovers, etc.) will determine where boats go.
  • Sailing race boats allow access to some of the planet’s most remote seas as well as areas outside common shipping and research routes.

The race’s route, with stopovers in different countries, presented logistical challenges regarding the transportation of scientific equipment to stopover ports as well as the shipment of samples, material, and instruments back to scientific partners. For example, shipments were subject to varying import conditions and customs duties depending on their country of origin and destination. 

 

Working with local scientific institutions helped with equipment, transporting the equipment on person and working diligently with customs before, during and after transport. Logistics for an international science experiment needs to be well planned out in advance and all admin done in advance regarding shipment of equipment and samples etc.

Marine Management

Much support was given to improve fisher capacity to manage their access to and use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs). The programme recognised that the establishment of marine managed and protected areas as a method of marine management has resulted in increased reliance on Fish Aggregating Devices installed outside the marine managed and protected areas, for sustenance of the fishery sector.  Fishers within the Carriacou Fisher Folks Inc also recognised this and the need for attention to be paid to the monitoring and management of this resource.  This beckoned the implementation of FAD Data Management training for fishers of Carriacou and Petit Martinique.  The training was facilitated through the Fisheries Department of the Government of Grenada, and included information sharing on, but not limited to data on marine conservation, history of FADs in the region, the importance of data collection, legislation, its challenges, development of informal protocols and rules, identifying fish species as well as data collection methodology and post data collection analysis.  The workshop also realised the commitment of fishers to establish GrenFAD, which will take the leading role in the management of the FADs.  The fishers agreed and signed off on the soft rules for FAD Fishing, membership and FAD fees, data collection, data collection templates and protocols for data collection and management.  Actors in the fishery sector and marine management/protection were also trained in the use of underwater drones for remote sensing. The Programme provided support for construction of at least 6 FADS for the St. Marks fishers in Dominica. In the case of Saint Lucia, the provision of navigational tools to assist in accessing the FAD locations, which are often many miles offshore, and generally speaking to assist with safety at sea.

With increased application of marine management strategies, there has been increased use of FADS to supplement the loss of access to fishing grounds which have been redesignated as protected areas, managed areas or reserves.  Thus, the CATS interventions to improve capacity to manage these FADS were quite opportune in timing, and the fishers were keen on participating in the interventions related to them.  In the case of the ROV’s this improved capacity enabled the beneficiaries to be ready to improve their monitoring efficiency and quality. 

The Programme recognised the need for practical, user-guided solutions and implementations as critical elements for success and long term and far reaching benefits from the same.  With regard to the FAD management and trainings, this process was smoothly executed with fishers taking ownership of this and taking the lead to put arrangements in place to better manage their FADs.

Planificación participativo e interinstitucional de humedales urbanos costeros

Posterior al análisis rápido se dio el paso de analizar las acciones que los actores locales (Municipios, ONG, Universidades) realizan en favor de la gestión de los humedales urbanos costeros. Para esto, se generó un panorama de respuestas por medio de entrevistas y talleres. 

Se evidencio un amplio panorama de respuestas, pero la mayoría con desafíos por la factibilidad legal (por ejemplo,  la presencia de asentamientos irregulares dificulta el acceso a servicios públicos, como limpia pública y drenaje de aguas residuales), desafíos financieras (por ejemplo, el Estero de los Cabos se contamina por el servicio deficiente de la planta de tratamiento de aguas residuales, pero para corregirlo, se requiere inversiones grandes), desafíos técnico-ambientales (por ejemplo, retirar el lirio acuático sin atender la contaminación por materia orgánica y fertilizantes, pues esto estimula el crecimiento excesivo y la factibilidad ambiental es baja) etc., origina dificultad y complejidad para poder dilucidar y encontrar respuestas adecuadas para cada humedal. 

Además de depender de dichos factores, también influye la voluntad y el interés político y técnico de asumir el reto de iniciar procesos complejos relacionados con los humedales. 

Finalmente se planificaron acciones vinculado a: 

  • Fortalecimiento de capacidades para la gestión mancomunado de humedales urbanos costeros
  • Gestión participativa de acciones de limpieza y protección de bordes de los humedales
  • Concientización ambiental sobre humedales urbanos costeros
  • Integración de humedales urbanos costeros en políticas publicas
  • La planificación participativa con actores públicos, privados, comunitarios, ONG y Universidades para enmarcar las acciones en las necesidades locales, no duplicar esfuerzos, y garantizar la sostenibilidad de las acciones en el tiempo 
  • Si los intereses de los actores son diferentes y diversos es necesario priorizar. Esto puede llevar a que algunos actores no quedaran satisfechos con la selección de las acciones y no continúan participando en la fase de implementación. 
  • El gran panorama de acciones y las limitaciones de recursos (presupuesto, tiempo de personal de contrapartes) causo que la fase de planificación tomo más tiempo que lo esperado. 
  • El marco normativo ambiental, con las Manifestaciones de Impacto Ambiental (MIA), en el cual para cada obra o actividad tanto de personas físicas o morales, incluyendo entes públicos, se requiere evaluar los impactos potenciales al ambiente (incluyendo humedales) no ha podido evitar que el desarrollo urbano ha llevado a la degradación de los humedales urbanos costeros. Durante el proyecto se evidencio el interés de los actores en el cuidado de los humedales, pero al haber los intereses contrapuestos del desarrollo urbano versus la gestión urbana, combinado con recursos limitados se vio priorizado más la gestión urbana que el cuidado de humedales. 
  • El marco normativo para los humedales urbanos costeros requiere que se realiza también para casi todas las acciones de conservación una Manifestación de Impacto Ambiental (MIA) lo cual no estaba contemplado (en tiempo y recursos) por lo que se limitó la selección de acciones que no requería MIA. 
  • Es importante realizar un detallado análisis de viabilidad a las acciones que salieron seleccionados del proceso de planificación participativa para corroborar su viabilidad en el tiempo y con los recursos disponibles (MIA)
  • Desde el inicio del proceso de planificación participativa de haber claridad sobre el alcance (recursos) para evitar generar expectativas que luego no se puede cumplir
Planificación participativo e interinstitucional de humedales urbanos costeros

Posterior al análisis rápido se dio el paso de analizar las acciones que los actores locales (Municipios, ONG, Universidades) realizan en favor de la gestión de los humedales urbanos costeros. Para esto, se generó un panorama de respuestas por medio de entrevistas y talleres. 

Se evidencio un amplio panorama de respuestas, pero la mayoría con desafíos por la factibilidad legal (por ejemplo,  la presencia de asentamientos irregulares dificulta el acceso a servicios públicos, como limpia pública y drenaje de aguas residuales), desafíos financieras (por ejemplo, el Estero de los Cabos se contamina por el servicio deficiente de la planta de tratamiento de aguas residuales, pero para corregirlo, se requiere inversiones grandes), desafíos técnico-ambientales (por ejemplo, retirar el lirio acuático sin atender la contaminación por materia orgánica y fertilizantes, pues esto estimula el crecimiento excesivo y la factibilidad ambiental es baja) etc., origina dificultad y complejidad para poder dilucidar y encontrar respuestas adecuadas para cada humedal. 

Además de depender de dichos factores, también influye la voluntad y el interés político y técnico de asumir el reto de iniciar procesos complejos relacionados con los humedales. 

Finalmente se planificaron acciones vinculado a: 

  • Fortalecimiento de capacidades para la gestión mancomunado de humedales urbanos costeros
  • Gestión participativa de acciones de limpieza y protección de bordes de los humedales
  • Concientización ambiental sobre humedales urbanos costeros

Integración de humedales urbanos costeros en políticas publicas

  • La planificación participativa con actores públicos, privados, comunitarios, ONG y Universidades para enmarcar las acciones en las necesidades locales, no duplicar esfuerzos, y garantizar la sostenibilidad de las acciones en el tiempo 
  • Si los intereses de los actores son diferentes y diversos es necesario priorizar. Esto puede llevar a que algunos actores no quedaran satisfechos con la selección de las acciones y no continúan participando en la fase de implementación. 
  • El gran panorama de acciones y las limitaciones de recursos (presupuesto, tiempo de personal de contrapartes) causo que la fase de planificación tomo más tiempo que lo esperado. 
  • El marco normativo ambiental, con las Manifestaciones de Impacto Ambiental (MIA), en el cual para cada obra o actividad tanto de personas físicas o morales, incluyendo entes públicos, se requiere evaluar los impactos potenciales al ambiente (incluyendo humedales) no ha podido evitar que el desarrollo urbano ha llevado a la degradación de los humedales urbanos costeros. Durante el proyecto se evidencio el interés de los actores en el cuidado de los humedales, pero al haber los intereses contrapuestos del desarrollo urbano versus la gestión urbana, combinado con recursos limitados se vio priorizado más la gestión urbana que el cuidado de humedales. 
  • El marco normativo para los humedales urbanos costeros requiere que se realiza también para casi todas las acciones de conservación una Manifestación de Impacto Ambiental (MIA) lo cual no estaba contemplado (en tiempo y recursos) por lo que se limitó la selección de acciones que no requería MIA. 
  • Es importante realizar un detallado análisis de viabilidad a las acciones que salieron seleccionados del proceso de planificación participativa para corroborar su viabilidad en el tiempo y con los recursos disponibles (MIA)
  • Desde el inicio del proceso de planificación participativa de haber claridad sobre el alcance (recursos) para evitar generar expectativas que luego no se puede cumplir
Business and Technical Capacity Development

Building resilience of the agricultural sector against the effects of meteorological variations includes building the resilience of small businesses along the value chains which use the produce from agricultural production.  Through the Business Capacity Development measure, two women-only local agro-processing groups which process local produce for the local and national market, benefitted from theoretical lectures and hands-on exercises on crucial business aspects (costs, revenues, new product ideas, design, marketing and the management of their business) so they could apply the knowledge gained to improve the quality of their decision making.  The core topics addressed during the training were:  Entrepreneurship Essentials, Introduction to Marketing; Basic Book-Keeping Principles; Essential Costing Practices; Office Administration, financial education, business management and investment-driven market expansion and borrowing.

Both groups acknowledged that they did need to improve their operations to achieve business success as their ability to improve sales relies on their being able to overcome hindrances in their daily operations. The capacity building exercise was therefore an opportunity for them to gain skills to help overcome these challenges.   

While these activities assisted the partners in facing, in a practical manner, technical and implementation challenges they would face in their operations there is also need for training in interpersonal engagement eg. Effective communication, conflict resolution, management and other soft skills critical for effectively managing the interpersonal components of business management. 

Youth Engagement

Educational and knowledge exchange programs were used to promote awareness of the importance of effectively managing ecosystems.  By focussing on the younger generation, the Programme sought to incorporate sustainability into its impacts as these youth would be the decisionmakers of the future. Further, there is the observation that children tend to share whatever they have learned with their parents. Thus, it is seen as an opportunity to reach the wider community with information.  Several approaches were executed.  In 2017, the Programme supported the Soufriere Scotts Head Marine Reserve (SSMR) Day in Dominica, a major collaborative effort between local authorities and the CATS programme.  500 primary school students and 81 teachers from 33 primary schools participated in activities that promote the understanding of the ridge to reef concept.  There was also adoption of the Soufriere Primary School as a Reef Guardian School.  This initiative served the dual purpose of educating and raising awareness of students and by extension, their parents, of the ridge to reef concept, and also making teachers more aware of these, so they could better instruct their students.  Also, in Soufriere Saint Lucia, three schools benefitted from support for the establishment of low chemical garden plots to produce food for the School Feeding Programmes embarked on these schools. The garden establishment also involved active participation of the children in the gardening process and revenue generation by the school through sale of excess produce.  This also realised development of management guidelines to be used by the schools for managing their existing plots as well as implementing similar. 

There is increased awareness of the importance of ensuring that the younger generation are fed good quality food.  This in addition to the need for easy access to good quality food secured the buy in needed for the execution of the school food production projects in St. Lucia.  In the case of Dominica, the SSMR Day event was already an initiative implemented by the Fisheries Division for years and thus there was already an appetite in the society for it.  The Reef Guardian programme could be considered an offshoot stimulated by the aforementioned SSMR Day. 

In engaging schools it is critical to incorporate parental support.  This not only is in an effort to ensure their consent, but also to create opportunities for parents to have a better understanding of the information being shared with their children, granted, these concepts are important for societal wellbeing.  They could also provide support for implementation even after the project would have ended.  It was also critical to obtain buy in from the school administrations which would have to put all conditions in place to support the establishment of the initiatives, but also the continuity of the same.

Resilience in marine communities

To assist in disaster vulnerability reduction, the CATS programme assisted in the construction of a berthing jetty in the remote community of Soufriere, Dominica.  Considered the most economically viable option, the jetty can provide for quick unimpeded access for goods for the community and an escape route for times of emergencies.  This infrastructure reduces the emergency response time between Soufriere/Scotts Head communities and Roseau by nearly half.  At the same time, the construction of such a facility is expected to create and expand new and hopefully sustained economic opportunities for the Local Area Management Authority (LAMA) and the local communities. 

The need for this intervention was highlighted by the passage of multiple natural disasters, which significantly inhibited the access of the Soufriere community to goods and services from outside the immediate community, especially due to there being a compromised road network.  The jetty was therefore a welcomed opportunity to overcome this challenge. The benefits to the commercial sector, fisher access   and improved standard of living were other motivating factors which created the enabling environment for this intervention. 

Being a multi-partner, community focussed initiative, it was noted that before such a project commenced, it was necessary to have a meeting between the project team and beneficiaries (not just leaders) to clarify everything in detail-a meeting that would bring everyone together before the project starts, and not just the leaders, is a good way to achieve this.  The management of the facility post completion is a critical factor, and one to be considered and incorporated in facility design at an early stage, lest long term maintenance becomes a challenge once the partners take over.  Also the engagement with a locally assigned engineer and a local construction team help secure community buy-in and support and speed up processes and approvals from local authorities.