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January 2017 e-Newsletter
In This Issue: Flip-flops to unique artHonduras youth center opensNew Seacology projects debut next monthTravel: PeruWinter print newsletter outSeacology director goes the distance

Cleanups in Kenya

Seacology has worked with communities on Kenya's Wasini Island since 2008. In our latest partnership, with the people of Mkwiro village, we've helped to simultaneously tackle two environmental challenges: overfishing and coastal pollution.

Wasini is an ecological treasure, home to 64 coral genera, more than 250 species of fish, and rich flora including a variety of mangroves and seagrass. Nearly six in ten people in the area depend on marine and coastal resources for their livelihoods. As Wasini's population grows, this has put increasing strain on the area's fisheries and the marine ecosystems that support them.

Recognizing this threat, Seacology and our partners have helped to set aside more than 700 acres of marine habitat for protection. The Mkwiro co-management area is a new reserve that with our support is now overseen by well-trained locals. Our project provided funding to support the park's Beach Management Unit, which monitors the area for illegal fishing and hosts resource-management trainings and outreach efforts to the village to teach and encourage sustainable practices.

Pollution from plastic refuse is another growing concern for ocean ecosystems worldwide, and the problem is especially noticeable at Wasini. Currents wash up many tons of waste on the island's shore each year. As part of our project, the local community has become part of the solution.
Project partners have organized regular community-led cleanup efforts, which have gathered several tons of waste from Wasini's beaches. Among the most common—and most valuable—items are thousands of discarded flip-flops. As part of the project, community members recycle the brightly colored foam material into unique handicrafts, everything from small decorative figurines to hats to elaborate beaded curtains and lampshades. They're also taught marketing and business-management skills and connected to potential buyers. What is left over from these projects is sold to nearby recyclers and repurposing organizations, bringing in extra revenue for the community. Instead of degrading in the ocean to choke and poison wildlife, these piles of discarded footwear have become a source of economic development for some of Kenya's poorest citizens. On our website, you can browse photos of some our favorite items made from from this repurposed plastic.
The Mkwiro project is one of two recent Save An Acre projects and is nearly complete. After new projects are approved next month, we will be announcing two new options for donors to save an acre of marine or forest habitat for just $40.

Roatán youth center opens

Surrounded by more than 95 square kilometers of coral reefs and home to a thriving tourism industry, the Honduran island of Roatán is a center of both biodiversity and commerce in the Caribbean. But despite Roatán's rapid development in recent decades, many of its people still live in crushing poverty. Many of the island's children must deal with food insecurity and the lack of infrastructure to support their studies. Some come from families under such financial strain that they've been forced to poach in the area's protected waters to put food on the table.

Last February, Seacology began a collaboration with BICA Roatan (the NGO co-founded by last year's Seacology Prize winner Irma Brady) and the School of Life Foundation on to build a children's center at Sandy Bay, at the island's western tip. Seacology funded the construction of one floor of the building​.

​The work is now complete, and after-school programs are underway, providing environmental education, language classes, and healthy meals.

New Seacology projects to be announced in February

Seacology projects begin with our team of knowledgeable field representatives. These individuals live and work in the countries where our projects take place and are both experts on conservation and the local culture. They work with island communities to assess their needs and come up with a win-win arrangement to form the basis of each project. Their proposals are then reviewed by our staff and submitted to our board of directors for approval. 

The next board meeting will take place early next month and we're very excited about the possibilities. We've compiled an impressive list of proposals from our field representatives, projects that would establish marine sanctuaries, allow for better waste management, support sustainable tourism, and more. We'll be announcing the projects the Board approves in next month's e-newsletter, so stay tuned!

Seacology Travel: Peru

August 5-15, 2017
This summer, Seacology will lead our first-ever trip to Peru! We invite you to explore key sites of the Inca Empire with us, including Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and more. We’ll also visit Foca Island, the location of our first project in Peru.

Learn more about the expedition in our brochure. Reservations are going fast for this trip, so don't hesitate if you're interested in joining us for this unforgettable excursion.

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Winter issue of Island Update out now

The latest issue of Island Update, Seacology's print newsletter, is out! It commemorates Seacology's 25th anniversary, taking a look back at our first quarter-century of innovative conservation work and highlights from our current projects.

Going the distance

When she's not overseeing our nationwide mangrove conservation project in Sri Lanka or working with our representatives in Africa, Seacology's Senior Manager of Special Initiatives Karen Peterson is also an avid long-distance runner. She frequently competes in 50K runs and has been a running coach for several years.

Eileen Francisco, a Seacology supporter and one of Karen's former students, recently interviewed Karen for "Beyond Ultras," a new podcast that spotlights runners who are working to make a difference. They discuss Karen's path to her dream job, the success so far in our efforts to protect all of Sri Lanka's mangroves, and how people can help promote environmental stewardship.

You can now stream the episode here.
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