Sunday, February 12, 2012


Sundays are fantastic in this place. One can truly feel in paradise, with not a care in the world. I sat in the nature trail this morning simply watching the birds and the monkeys. After lunch I paddled out to the back reef, had a glorious snorkel, where I saw a turtle, big marbled grouper and a shoal of unicorn fish. It just feels so idyllic, like the world is simply there for enjoyment and beauty, and on Sundays one can just soak it in.
Sundays are also timeless. There's no past, of how pristine the reef used to be, no present issues and no future with ongoing abhorrent corruption and potential violence in later this election year. The irony is I'm writing about these things on a Sunday, but for the most part the weekend is not just a break from work, but from the world too.
This week I felt less ready to just accept the status quo. In order to survive in a place like this one needs to adjust one's expectations and acceptance thresholds. Over the time I've been here this process has become second nature which is mostly useful for sanity, but not always the best. For example a big issue here at the moment is ring-netting, a destructive illegal fishing practise, which is going on in front of everyone's face, but very little is being done. On Monday I saw the boat fishing right next to the park and when I got home there was an email from the Dive Instructor to the whole community with photos of the boat. Suddenly there was a flurry of angry comments from various people. The KWS warden Korir sent his apologies saying he would deal with it after returning from upcountry and another guy said there was to be a meeting with fisheries. I was telling Joy, a volunteer helping with marine work, about it and said that I felt encouraged by the Warden's response and the upcoming meeting. Stanley overheard the conversation and shouted from the office next door, "Rubbish! This is an illegal practise carried out by one boat, whose owner we know. Just arrest him! What will you talk about in the meeting!?" Stanley is a respected community figure who has worked with A Rocha from the start. He followed through by emailing that comment on the chain going around. I was inspired and realised that I had spent so long learning to accept crazy situations I could no longer yell when necessary. In response, I called the second in command at KWS, Sergeant Tinga, and told him exactly what I thought. I could say it as a friend and colleague and someone who has been here a little while. I don't know whether it had any impact, but it certainly felt good to get it out!
It is so hard to exist when so much around you is going wrong. Its a tight-rope of apathy and despair, stress or defeated acceptance. And that is where I feel God comes in. He is the Rock on which we base our hope. There are signs of hope in the world, but it really can be a battle and we need to stand in Christ and fight the battle with love and gentleness and peacefully say, "This is not ok."
This Sunday, like many I've enjoyed at A Rocha, has been a time to rest and simply enjoy and recharge for the week. A time to remind myself what is beautiful and what we should strive for.
Hawksbill turtle

Ring netters in action


  1. Could you explain how ring netting works?

  2. Ring netting uses a 300m long net which goes up to 30m deep. One surrounds an area and then closes the noose scooping everything in that circle. Often it is used in pelagic (deep water) fishing, where it is highly efficient. However in Africa and especially Tanzania and now Kenya it is used in coastal waters. This has several issues. One is that it drags along the bottom destroying benthic life, such as corals. Also the nature of coral reef fish populations means there is enormous unselective by-catch and catch of ecologically important/sensitive species, and this alone can push a reef to degradation. In addition many boats drop sand bags to scare the fish up off the reef and into the catchment, meaning the coral is smothered and no longer suitable habitat for fish populations to recover. Besides all these evils, they are conducting this fishing in a marine reserve, where only local artisanery fishing is permited and in areas, which normally bring huge amounts of dive tourism to see the (still) awesome coral and fish populations.

  3. An inspiring entry Ben. Its good to see you moved to action. A couple of quotes for you:

    It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent; it is the one that is most responsive to change. Charles Darwin
    Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. Steve Jobs
    and my favourite...
    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead