Updated: Aug 2, 2021
I hope you had a great weekend,
The opening says, often, when we celebrate people or actions, it is based on how these rules and people allowed us to benefit or partake in ways that most seem natural to us and for us and ours, so nothing is/was taken away, only a keeping of the status quo or increasing our stake in.
Yesterday was Marine Protected Areas day, to be honest I did not want to write about this because there is a level of fatigue currently happening in me, around Black bodies, water spaces and conservation.
As I scrolled in the celebrations happening on Social media, I wondered who’s work it is, to craft space to honour and hold the hard for what these Marine Protected Areas are to people who were forcibly removed from their homes, losing parts of their identity, their ancestral land and means through which they could make a living in the pursuit of.
How this past is deeply present, in context.
I remain ever so awake to the privilege it is to enjoy water spaces as a Black body but I am always well aware of the cost at which it came,
A few instances come to mind, in Durban walking along in a protected area, there was a man fishing, as the human I was walking with said ‘he is not allowed to fish here’ I said why, he said its a MPA and fishing times are xyz, and I said, I wonder if the community where he lives was consulted in the crafting of this place being an MPA.
Second, watching Hluleka the film, listening to the community tell of how they don’t mind the MPA but are worried because their ability to earn a living was impacted by the creation of this MPA, and what it would mean for them to be engaged in the future conservation plans so they can live too.
Last was asking an ocean facing community living around an MPA, what this MPA does for them as a community, the larger answer was that it provided jobs for some of the people in the community, which is great but, nothing further has happened or happens in the community.
Black bodies and these rules that are drafted around our bodies almost as though we weren’t human, and perhaps at at time, it was believed that we were not, and so history matters.
Penalty for being caught that make criminals of innocent men
Systems of exclusion
The need for Marine Protected Areas goes without saying, and so, as we celebrate this, may we forever remember the price at which it came for Black people.
And so, in our work towards 2030 goals, may we, as Ocean lovers, guardians and livers in, be the change from the old, not only in how these laws are drafted, but the daily holders of history, as a torch through which we see, so even in our celebrations, we hold space for the hard too, so our children and children's children not only understand the cost at which these came at first, but will also be active guardians ensuring that history doesn't repeat itself, in the active pursuit of protecting our Oceans.
To be first human too. Where the work of protecting the vulnerable is of equal importance when talking policy change and Ocean Protection.
Stretching our lens to not only see ‘ours’, but the greater too.
I hope this sobers us all.
To the questions that need to be asked to the people leading these discussions, on how best the Oceans can be protected while protecting the most vulnerable.
Who often lose either way.
To Oceans where, they are also the least contributors to the reasons why we need to protect the oceans in the first place.