The Ocean Champs from Durban talked to scientists and student from ZMt about their project on ocean and coastal protection. | Photo: Jan Meier, ZMT

21/06/2019 | As part of their week-long visit to Bremen, 14 Ocean Champs from South Africa stopped over at ZMT for an afternoon of talks, discussion and dancing. They met with ZMT scientists from different fields to discuss their educational projects including ZMT scientific director Prof. Dr. Hildegard Westphal, Dr. Elisa Casella, Dr. Gustavo Castellanos-Galindo, Dr. Marie Fujitani, Prof. Dr. Martin Zimmer and master student Valeska Diemel. The visit was organised by Anne Jäger, coordinator of the "Bremen-Durban Network for Marine Environmental Education" at ZMT.

The “Ocean Champs” presented their educational ventures ranging from the use of drones to locating litter hotspots on the coastline of Durban, comparing the state of mangrove past and present and a community-based project to teach people about the marine environment and quizzed the scientists on how to further develop their projects exchanging knowledge both ways.

After the talks the “Ocean Champs” got everyone out of their seats to dance to their anti-plastic-pollution song “Reuse-reduce-recycle” before heading to ZMT’s MAREE where they were met by José García Barranca who gave them a tour of the marine experimental facility.

The Durban-based activists for the marine environment have been trained as part of the climate partnership between the South African city and Bremen and a resulting cooperation project for marine environmental education. The "Bremen-Durban Network for Marine Environmental Education" focuses in particular on marine pollution caused by plastic waste and the input of nutrients and pollutants. The youngsters then pass on their newly acquired know-how to their communities in order to promote public awareness of the importance of marine conservation.

Their training is part of an overall curriculum and the “Ocean Champs” are gaining further qualifications, credits and an official certificate recognised within South Africa’s National Qualification Framework, said Chumisa Thengwa, Senior Manager Biodiversity Impact Assessment and Municipal Compliance, at the “eThekwini Municipality” which includes Durban and other cities in the area.

The project “Bremen-Durban Network for Marine Environmental Education (MEEN)” is supported by the Service Agency Communities in One World (SKEW) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). On the Bremen side, the Senator for Environment, Construction and Transport as well as the Senator for Children and Education of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, the Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz (BUND) Bremen, the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) and the University of Bremen support the project with their expertise.

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