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World Fish Migration Day

In partnership with our sponsor The Nature Conservancy (TNC), OELO held an event at the local fisheries department to celebrate World Fish Migration Day, May 21, 2016 - the first of its kind in Central Africa. WFMD raises awareness of the importance of fish migration and maintaining fish migration routes to communities all around the world and encourages hundreds of organizations to coordinate annual events. OELO invited two of its nature clubs to participate who had club themes that aligned with fish migration: Les Gardiens de la Nature from Ecole Protestant du Foyer, who have been organizing activities this year with the theme of sustainable fishing, and Nature Pour Christ from Alliance Chrétienne, who have focused on protecting the Ogooué River and the environment.

In the weeks leading up to the event, we asked participating club members to collect discarded plastic bottles, a major source of waste found in the Ogooué River, to create recycled bottle fish. Modeled after species native to the river and the lake region, these plastic bottle fish were created for an informational art installation to be unveiled at the local fishing center. The students decorated their fish with colored construction paper, paint, and creatively repurposed materials. After the fish were complete, the kids composed messages to raise awareness about sustainable fishing, fish migration, and the species of fish they created.

After a word of welcome from our host, the Interim Director of the Fisheries Department Justine Abogho Allogho, Marie-Claire Paiz, Gabon Program Manager of TNC, began the event with a introduction about the importance of the day for the club members, their families, and notable guests from around Lambaréné including the Préfet, representatives from the Mayor’s office, the Provincial Director of Land Management, and neighborhood leaders. From Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CENAREST) in Libreville, researcher Jean-Hervé Mve Beh followed with a presentation on the importance of fish migration and threats to migration routes  in Gabon. After a lively question and answer segment, everyone adjourned to the courtyard behind Direction de la Pêche to watch the two clubs’ presentations. Two students from Foyer shared poems, recounting stories about the dangers of overfishing and advising their family members to adopt sustainable fishing practices. A high school student from Alliance Chrétienne recited her ode to the Ogooué. Les Gardiens de la Nature’s song painted a picture of the lakes near Lambaréné and all the aquatic animals that live in them. Nature Pour Christ’s inspiring anthem and dance implored everyone to work together to save the environment. Both theatrical pieces were hits with the audience, the right balance of humor and a conscientious message.

OELO awarded four small scholarship prizes in a coloring contest, two for the primary school level and two for the high school level, using images from the WFMD organization, all to illustrate that “Fish can’t travel like we can.” Each student was given a coloring page to decorate however they chose. The first place  winner at the primary school level drew her own picture of a fish crossing a street and the winner from the high school level added in green, yellow, and blue, exemplifying the flag of Gabon. 

While everyone enjoyed a cocktail that aligned with the theme of fish migration featuring dishes of local fish species such as bar and sans nom, the club members got to work with their recycled bottle fish. In the entrance to the fishing agency, the students hung up their works of art with fishing line, creating an art installation for anyone passing through the building to admire. Not only were they creative but they carried important messages about respecting our fish populations to ensure their strength for future generations.

OELO was so pleased with the work these two nature clubs put forth to make the day a success!