For ages, Samoans have depended upon the ocean for survival. Way before plastics was a thing. Way before world powers split the islands into two groups. Way before the missionaries.
The ocean has always been there for us. It is a part of us.
On the eve of World Oceans Day, the owners of Matareva’s Beach Fales in Lefaga, Togialelei Tavita Faletoese and his wife Leota Fiauu Faletoese, remind Samoa of the need to protect our precious marine ecosystems and resources, through participation and education.
“There are so many people who just don’t care but this is a big thing for the whole of Samoa. What we’ve noticed at Matareva’s is that the currents are bringing in plastics from other parts and these plastics; they wash up on our end. We’ve been cleaning all those up over the years,” Togialelei said during an interview with Newsline Samoa in Tamaligi.
“What Matareva’s is pushing for is trying to make this an educational thing, not just for the young ones but the old ones as well. We need for everyone to work together and solve this problem. We’re hoping to get help from the bigger companies as well to set up recycling bins. Part of this huge problem is because we don’t have enough recycling areas to address this plastic problem. Right now we are working with what we have by separating wastes with what we can afford. You gotta start somewhere.”
Last year, Matareva’s was very pleased to host a dive master who spoke to the children about the importance of marine ecosystems.
“He went through the importance of our ecosystems, how it works, to help the kids to understand what happens in the undersea world,” said Togialelei.
“It’s not just about rubbish. It’s also about working with the kids to help them understand what is happening with our marine resources.”
Leota said “the whole purpose of inviting the schools is because we believe and we feel that it’s a good thing to do.”
“It’s the right thing to do – to teach the young ones on how to live plastic free. Not only in school but they must also practice this at home,” she said.
“Our efforts are also in line with the new law that went into effect this year that bans plastic bags. At Matareva’s, we have a fisheries reserve. The Fisheries Ministry will be giving away posters and learning materials for the kids.”
Children from four schools in Lefaga will participate in educational activities that focus on the dangers of plastic pollution and responsible waste management.
Students from Lefaga College, Safata College, Salamumu Primary School and Matautu Gagaifo Primary School will compete in games and fun contests that highlight the World Oceans Day 2019 theme: “Marine Debris and Plastic Pollution.”
Owners of Matareva’s said their annual event was launched last year.
“We are going to hold this event each year, the observance of World Oceans Day. Last year, World Oceans Day fell on a Friday and this year it’s on a Saturday, tomorrow,” Leota said.
“We’ve invited a number of government ministries – Fisheries, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), organizations like the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) – all these organizations involved in protecting our environment have been invited. Like last year, we’ve also invited the school children.”
Students from Lefaga College, Safata College, Salamumu Primary School and Matautu Gagaifo Primary School will be in attendance.